Funny. Bold. At times, charming with the ladies.
That’s how Kevin Watson remembers his nephew.
For many others, Antoquan Watson is just a suspect on a video who led police on an 11-minute, four-city car chase that ended in a shootout with him dead on the street.
But, as people call him names or even laugh at the outcome, Kevin Watson wants to remind them that this was someone who was loved.
“I noticed so many people had so much to say about a person they knew nothing about,” Watson said. “No matter what, Antoquan Watson was still a human being.”
His uncle isn’t saying police were wrong. He just wishes it hadn’t been his nephew.
Just as hundreds of thousands have done, Kevin Watson watched the video of the March 27, 2014, chase that began in Pleasantville, and ended in gunfire in the middle of Atlantic City’s Walk.
“I looked at this video knowing I would be watching my nephew Antoquan’s death play out in front of my eyes,” he said.
He was 27.
Antoquan grew up in Mays Landing raised by his mother, Remanica Watson, who played both parental roles, her brother said.
Antoquan was respectful, although he didn’t deal with a lot of people, his uncle said: “You could kind of call him a loner.”
In 2001, Antoquan lost his mother at 14. He was left in the care of her mother, Pamela Watson.
Even after leaving his grandmother’s home, Antoquan would always call and stop by to make sure she was OK, Kevin Watson said.
Then, almost exactly a year before he would die, Antoquan lost his grandmother on April 1, 2013.
“With the two women that took care of him passed, I think it may have caused a major breakdown on his mental health,” Watson said.
He had already started using a drug that took over his life, his uncle said.
That is believed to have been what is known as “wak,” a cigarette or joint dipped in PCP.
A video posted to YouTube before Antoquan’s death showed him in Atlantic City’s Venice Park, walking down the street naked and incoherent. Two police officers take him into custody and took him to the hospital.
Antoquan”s grandmother was still alive at that time, and seeing it hurt, hr son said.
Watson questioned why the video of his nephew’s death needed to be released.
“So hurtful and disrespectful,” he said. “Why from start to finish is my question. What was the purpose? What did it prove?”
Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner released the video in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that such videos are public record in most cases. It was part of the office’s goal of being transparent.
But for Watson, it was just watching a loved one lose his life.
“Yes, my nephew’s actions were wrong,” he said. “Remember, he was under the influence of a mind-controlling drug.”
Four days earlier, the younger Watson happily told his uncle of the SUV he was buying. The one he was driving that day, captured on the dashboard camera of a Pleasantville police car.
“I told him how proud I was of him to see him growing into a grown man,” Watson said. “I didn’t know that would be the last time I would (talk) with him.”
He says he had been upset with the officers involved in the shooting, until he saw the video.
“After seeing and placing myself in their (place), I would have done the same,” he said. “So, I understand. I just wish it wasn’t Antoquan Watson.”