Sergeant Wetzel, a 15-year State Police veteran, has been placed on administrative leave. A union representative did not return calls seeking comment.
Mr. Gordon moved from Jamaica to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., at 19, joining several half-siblings who lived in the area. He drove for Uber and made deliveries for Uber Eats while studying chemistry at Dutchess Community College’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, relatives and school officials said.
He dreamed of being a chemistry teacher, his mother said.
A former girlfriend told The Pine Barrens Tribune, a South Jersey publication, that he was being treated for schizophrenia. His mother, sister and a family lawyer neither confirmed nor disputed that, but they said it was irrelevant to his death. The former girlfriend could not be immediately reached for comment.
“I don’t think his mental health has anything to do with it,” Ms. Barrett said.
The lawyer, William O. Wagstaff III, said there were more questions than answers about what had led to the struggle, which he said happened nearly 40 minutes into Mr. Gordon’s encounter with the police.
Mr. Wagstaff, who said he had been allowed to view a portion of the police footage before it was released, said that Mr. Gordon’s car was pulled off to the side of the parkway’s left-hand passing lane. When Mr. Gordon was asked to move his car to the safety of the opposite shoulder, it would not start, Mr. Wagstaff said.
At first, Mr. Gordon sat in his car while waiting for a tow truck to arrive, the lawyer said. He then moved to the back seat of the trooper’s car, which was parked behind his.
Mr. Gordon was frisked before entering the trooper’s car and was not carrying a weapon, Mr. Wagstaff said.