Another NJ cop ‘not guilty’ — His mayor brother slams ‘corrupt’ prosecutor
CARTERET — A borough police officer has been found not guilty of pummeling a 16-year-old boy who fled from police and crashed his car in 2017.
The Middlesex County jury on Friday acquitted Joseph Reiman of all charges. The judge had already tossed an official misconduct charge against him, which would have led to a mandatory prison sentence if he had been found guilty.
The verdict led his brother, Mayor Dan Reiman, to excoriate Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey, calling on the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate the “corrupt” prosecution that “put every officer in my town in jeopardy.”
“Since May 31, 2017, I have consistently stated that all individuals are entitled to their day in court,” Mayor Reiman said Friday in a statement that referenced the police dash cam video that prosecutors released to the public in 2017.
“Justice was served, not by a 35-second video but by an ethnically and culturally diverse jury from Middlesex County. The jury saw right through this fraudulent persecution of a law enforcement officer doing his job,” he said on Facebook.
A spokeswoman for Carey on Saturday declined to comment on the verdict.
Officer Reiman was the second cop this week to be acquitted by a jury after being charged with crimes in connection to an arrest. On Monday, an Ocean County jury cleared Tuckerton Police Officer Justin Cherry who prosecutors said released his K9 dog on a woman who had been pulled over.
In both cases, the officers continue to face lawsuits over the arrests.
Officers acquitted of criminal charges can still face departmental disciplinary charges, although those proceedings are kept secret unless they are appealed to the Civil Service Commission or a judge.
The 17-minute Carteret arrest video, which was obtained and published by New Jersey 101.5 after Officer Reiman was charged, shows the officer briefly pursuing a vehicle through a residential neighborhood until it crashes against a utility pole.
The video shows then-16-year-old Monte Stewart getting out of the vehicle and reaching for the ground as an officer shouts “Get on the f***ing ground!”
The cop swings his fists as the teen appears to roll on the ground. Much of the struggle takes place partially out of the camera’s view but the officer appears to continue to hit the suspect after about a minute.
A witness who spoke to New Jersey 101.5 in June 2017 said she saw the police “throw him on the ground, and he was punching him and yelling at him.”
Prosecutors say Reiman — who had been among the officers in his department who most often had to resort to using force — assaulted the teen after he had surrendered, failed to use "reasonable discretion or restraint" and failed to turn on his body camera, which resulted in an official misconduct charge.
Prosecutors said Reiman got on top of the teen and "punched the teen several times with a closed fist." Reiman did not call an ambulance.
The incident began as a traffic stop, but the family said the teen panicked and hit the gas, crashing the vehicle. The teen testified saying that he was afraid of getting pulled over because his father would be upset that he took the car, NJ.com reported.
But the teen’s father may have been more furious with the verdict on Friday.
“He beat my son!” the father shouted in court. “It’s only the white police [that] get away! We’re going to die out here!”
Officer Reiman is white while the teen is black.
Mayor Reiman, a Democrat, was pleased with the result.
What the Prosecutor's shortened video didn't show was the suspect (already on probation for strong arm robbery) was running from the police, reaching for the officer's belt, the fact that the suspect's face hit the windshield (as backed up by the expert witnesses) or the subsequent 20 charges the suspect was facing that were swept under the rug by the County Prosecutor. I have great pride in my brother, who has faced these accusations with tremendous strength and gratitude to all of the individuals who have shown support to my entire family during this period. The Carteret Police Department is among the most professional in the state of NJ and today's verdict lifts a cloud that has hung over the Department as the result of the corrupt actions of County Prosecutor Andrew Carey.
While the criminal case is over, we need to repair trust within the community and our Police Department. There are too many special interests with corrupt motives who attempted to make this a race issue, when it most certainly was not. I pray for all involved to continue on with their lives and find peace.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.