Feds charge Paterson cops with lying about beating man
Two Paterson police officers were charged by federal prosecutors with filing a false report in connection with the brutal beating of a young man in December as the state Attorney General and Passaic County Prosecutor's offices take over the department's internal affairs division.
Osamah Alsaidi said he was accosted by Officers Kevin Patino, 29, and Kendry Tineo-Restituyo, 28, for no reason as he walked along Madison Avenue. He said he was beaten a second time after he was released from the hospital following his first police encounter — leaving him partially blind for several weeks.
He posted part of a police report as well as video on his Facebook page that contradicted what police claimed in their report.
His claims were backed by acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig who said the officers struck Alsaidi in the face and body "numerous times" and hit him while he was on the ground.
The state Attorney General's Office took over the investigation from the department's Internal Affairs unit.
Honig said the officer filed a police report, "which contained numerous false statements and omissions" including that Alsaidi screamed profanities at them and acted belligerent. Both officers were due in court on Tuesday.
The state Attorney General's Office said on Tuesday it was assuming responsibility for the internal affairs functions of the Paterson Police Department to ensure that future investigations are conducted thoroughly and that officers engaged in misconduct are held accountable for their actions.
The Prosecutor's Office will review all criminal matters in which the two officers signed complaints, handled evidence, testified in court or provided material information leading to arrest, complaint or indictment.
Mayor Andre Sayegh said he welcomed the involvement of prosecutors.
"It's an extension of my vision for a more accountable police department," Sayegh told New Jersey 101.5. "In fact, a few years ago to improve transparency within the police department I introduced tools for trust. Some of the tools were body cameras which Paterson police officers never wore before and now they are, a complete audit of the department focusing on use of force which will be out relatively soon and the support of a civilian review board which I testified in front of an Assembly review board in favor of."
Patino and Tineo-Restituyo were charged with depriving a victim of his constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by law enforcement officers and with filing a false police report.
CAIR-New Jersey, a Muslim civil rights organization that called for the two officers involved in the Alsaidi case to be fired, welcomed the charges.
"This is a step toward justice but we will not be satisfied until both officers are tried and convicted for their alleged crimes. No one is above the law. We will continue to hold police officers accountable for their abuse of power," Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said.