Newark mayor Cory Booker has a very active imagination. Eliana Johnson demonstrated that with her report on Booker’s moving, highly detailed accounts of his involvement with “T-Bone,” a hard-luck drug dealer who Booker admitted to a friend is a fiction.
So count us as a little skeptical about heart-wrenching stories told by Cory Booker that happen to serve his rhetorical purposes. That is why Eliana has gotten interested in the case of Wazn Miller. In the sort of tragedy all too common in our cities, Miller was gunned down in Newark in 2004 in a murder that has never been solved.
Almost no one would have heard his name if Booker hadn’t repeatedly told the story of his last minutes. According to Booker, he heard shots in his neighborhood, Miller stumbled backwards and collapsed into his arms, and then died, as Booker whispered into his ear, “Stay with me, stay with me.”
Now, we have no idea of the truth of this account, and as far as we know, the incident happened exactly as described by Booker. But, given the dubious existence of T-Bone, we’d like to see documents backing up Booker’s statements. Certainly, the public has a right to know if Booker has made a habit of embellishing or fabricating similarly cinematic stories.
It should be easy to get more information about the Miller case. New Jersey is an open-records state. Yet for weeks now, we have been stonewalled and given the run-around by everyone we’ve asked for help in obtaining the relevant police records. We’ve asked nicely, we’ve asked firmly, we’ve asked in every way imaginable, but gotten nowhere. It is much easier to learn about the most sensitive aspects of top-secret national-security programs than it is to get Newark police records related to that day.
Enough is enough. Yesterday we filed suit against the Newark Police Department, the City of Newark, and Mayor Booker to obtain the records in keeping with New Jersey law. This suit shouldn’t be necessary, but the official obstruction in Newark has made it so. In such an instance, everyone should favor openness.
We bet even T-Bone — whoever or wherever he supposedly is — would agree with us on this one.
— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review.