Cops sit white teen on couch but tackle Black teen to ground in NJ mall fight
BRIDGEWATER — Township police are responding to a social media outcry after video captured the contrast in how officers responded to a fight at Bridgewater Commons between two teen boys who appear to be of different races.
The video shows police having the white teen sit on a couch while taking the Black teen to the floor and restraining him with a foot on his back.
In a roughly minute-long clip posted to Facebook, a teen who appears to be white jabs his finger at a teen who appears to be Black, who pushes his hand away.
The first teen then shoves the second teen with both hands and both begin to grapple and throw punches as other teens look on and some take video of the fight.
After half a minute, two township police officers arrive, one female and one male. Both appear to be white.
The female officer pushes the first teen onto a couch and briefly leans over with a hand on his shoulder.
At the same time, the male officer pulls the second teen to the ground, puts a knee on his back and starts to restrain his hands behind his back.
The first officer leaves the teen who appears to be white unattended and unrestrained to help restrain the teen already on the ground.
At one point, the first teen then stands up and watches as both officers are restraining the teen he had been fighting.
You can click here to watch the video clip but be warned that it includes some profane language.
The Bridgewater Township Police Department addressed the incident on its Facebook page Monday and asked for any other witnesses to submit video.
“We recognize that this video has made members of our community upset and are calling for an internal affairs investigation. The officers were able to respond quickly to this incident and stop it from escalating because of a tip we received from the community,” police said.
The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that it is leading a review of how the officers handled the fight.
“The matter has been referred to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Internal Affairs Unit who is investigating the incident in accordance with New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines and Directives," the office said in a statement Tuesday.
Anyone who was present at the time of the fight and may have recorded any part of it can contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Internal Affairs Unit at 908-575-3300 or via the STOPit app, which allows citizens to provide anonymous reports including videos and photos.
STOPit can be downloaded to a smartphone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: SOMERSETNJ.
“The men and women of the Bridgewater Township Police Department are thankful for our community partners and look forward to continuing to build our positive relationships,” the township police department also said in its written statement.