Piscataway cop charged after punching suspect — Here’s the video
PISCATAWAY — A township police officer is facing criminal charges after punching a suspect who was already handcuffed and in the back seat of a police car. Prosecutors say the cop also tried to cover up the incident.
Todd Ritter, 54, of Millstone, was charged last week with third-degree tampering with public records, fourth-degree falsifying and tampering with records, and a disorderly persons offense of assault.
Ritter was suspended without pay from his $122,000 job pending the resolution of the criminal case. He has almost 22 years of service.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office released few details about the incident but, in response to an Open Public Records Act request by New Jersey 101.5, released a copy of a video recorded by a camera in the police officer's car.
In the two-minute video, dated Feb. 12, the suspect is seen handcuffed in the backseat of the car telling police on the scene that he had been beaten by an officer even though he had not resisted.
The suspect becomes agitated when officers say they do not believe him.
"You're really going to be a d---head cop like that?" the suspect tells an officer, presumably Ritter, after the vehicle takes off from the scene.
Amid a fusillade of profanity, the suspect kicks the partition between the front and back seats of the vehicle about a dozen times.
"I'm going to kill all ya n----s!" he shouts. "He slammed me and put his knee in my face and you watched! And then you're going to pick me up by my hair? You gay as hell!"
The car then stops and the officer opens the back passenger door, immediately reaches in, grabs the suspect by the neck and punches him in the face.
"Stop kicking! Stop stressing! Stop kicking me in the balls," the cop tells the suspect, who appears to be still in the video.
As he pulls the suspect out of the car, the officer tells another individual: "This a--hole just kicked me in the nuts."
The video, which you can watch above, does not show the suspect kicking the officer anywhere on his body.
The Prosecutor's Office blurred the suspect's face before releasing the video file. New Jersey 101.5 edited the video to mute some vulgarities.
New Jersey 101.5 did not know Tuesday whether Ritter had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Ritter is one of several officers in the state facing criminal charges alleging improper use of force. Police officers are rarely charged with crimes for their handling of arrests.
Also in Middlesex County, the police officer brother of Carteret's mayor was charged with assault after repeatedly punching a teen suspect last year. Authorities also accused him of purposely failing to turn on his body camera. The incident, however, was captured by a police car dashboard camera.
In Jersey City, four officers have been charged in connection to an incident last year in which they pummeled a burning man they had pulled from a fiery car wreck. Officers mistook the victim for a suspect who had been in a high-speed car chase, officials said.
And in Camden County, authorities are investigating an arrest in which a suspect was punched in the head at least 10 times by a cop. A spokesman for the county police force said officers mistook the man for someone who matched his description. The incident was captured by a security camera, which showed the man standing with his hands up before he was wrestled to the ground.