Cops should be ‘commended, not criticized’ for professor’s arrest, prosecutor finds
The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office has found two police accused by a black Princeton Professor of mistreating her because of her race shouldn't be punished for their conduct — but commended.
That's according to a report by NJ Advance Media early Saturday morning, which quotes First Assistant Mercer County Prosecutor Doris Galuchie saying the office plans to close the case unless African American Studies professor Imani Perry comes forward with more evidence.
Galuchie told the news organization so far it seems Princeton police should be "commended, not criticized."
New Jersey 101.5 has left messages for the prosecutor's office and is awaiting a response.
Imani's arrest has proven a controversial one since she took to Twitter on Feb. 7 to protest it, after being arrested on two years-old outstanding warrants for unpaid parking tickets and for driving with a suspended license.
Among the messages she posted on her Twitter account, before deactivating it (saying she'd received threats and people had tried to hack into the account): “The police refused to allow me to make a call before my arrest, so that someone would know where I was.” “There was a male and a female officer, but the male officer did the body search before cuffing me and putting me in the squad car.” “I was handcuffed to a table at the station."
Imaini, in a further account of the arrest she posted to Facebook, said the “fact of my blackness is not incidental to this matter.” She argued black people are denied the benefit of police discretion broadly, as well as in cases like hers.
“The warrant commands the officer to take the person into custody,” Princeton Police Chief Nicholas K. Sutter told the New York Times this week.
In a dashboard camera video of Imaini's arrest released this week, two officers — one male, one female — appear calm throughout the encounter. In the video, an officer is seen telling Perry that when someone is arrested on a warrant, procedure requires that person be handcuffed. The officer tells her that she can make “as many phone calls as you want” at police headquarters. A patdown of Perry was done off camera.
In a letter to the Princeton community, school President Christopher L. Eisgruber wrote this week that he shares the concerns of people shocked by the arrest over unpaid tickets: “We welcome an investigation not only of the treatment of Professor Perry, but of the underlying policies, practices, and protocols that were applied."
New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea commended the police, and honored them as this week's #BlueFriday nominees — Spadea's ongoing effort to recognize police who go above and beyond the call of duty. As with all of New Jersey 101.5's talk show hosts, Bill Spadea's opinions are his own — they don't necessarily represent the station or other hosts, who may have opposing views.
"You can’t blame the officers for doing their job. What you can do, is appreciate and congratulate the officers for doing their job to the best of their abilities. This is their procedure and Ptl. Michael Schubert and Ptl. Courtney Navas followed the procedures as they were supposed to," Spadea wrote in a blog post Friday.
In New Jersey 101.5 Twitter poll, 94 percent of respondents said Perry owed police an apology:
The Trentonian's Jeff Edelstein, a frequent guest host for New Jersey 101.5, took another stance in a column this week. While he acknowledged Perry's allegations race played a role in her treatment, he said he'd rather not engage them — but instead, the mere fact that unpaid parking tickets could lead to an arrest.
"Bottom line is this: There is no reasonable explanation as to why an unpaid parking ticket should lead to an arrest," he wrote. "We’re talking an infraction that cost the township a quarter, an unpaid fine of $40 the township didn’t collect and now … what? How much money was spent on the arrest? How much will be spent in court costs? Assorted other legal nonsense?"
He said he acknowledged Perry was "not an innocent victim," having ignored her parking tickets, driven without a license, and sped.
"How about instead of handcuffs and arrests we make it so you can’t get a new registration card until you pay your parking ticket? Or you get points on your licence if you don’t pay? Or almost virtually anything except what happened to Perry?"