NJ man says Clifton ‘brake check’ cop later confronted him and called him ‘coward’
CLIFTON — A New Jersey man who posted a viral YouTube video taken from his own dashcam showing a Clifton police officer allegedly "brake-checking" him now says the same cop later accosted him outside a restaurant and called him a coward.
Clifton police reportedly are investigating the original incident in March, in which the officer brought his vehicle to a sudden stop while the motorist followed behind on Van Houten Avenue.
The cop is seen and heard on the video telling the driver that he stopped suddenly because he believed the driver was "going to run into" him. The driver of the vehicle with the dashcam was issued summonses for tailgating, not having a front license plate and for having tinted windows.
Scroll down to see the original video.
Since the video was posted last week, mostly drawing scorn against the officer from many online commenters, the driver — who only gave his name as Omar and declined to provide his age — has made new allegations against the officer, claiming he confronted Omar outside a diner.
Omar on Monday went on the air with New Jersey 101.5's Deminski and Doyle to say that he plans to fight all three summonses during his court date on May 26.
“I don’t think he had probable cause to pull me over," he said during the show.
In addition, Omar told the hosts he doesn't believe he was tailgating. He said the entire time he was following the officer, their speed stayed below 30 miles per hour. At one point, he believes they were only doing about 18 miles per hour.
"I honestly thought that he was a rookie or he was lost," Omar said, because they were going so slowly.
The officer was identified by NJ Advance Media as Juan Velez, who has been with the Clifton Police Department since 2005 and earns a base salary of $119,558.
Omar says the alleged brake check was not his last run-in with Velez.
Omar claims on March 31, after he and friend with whom he had been talking about the incident left a Zinburger in Clifton, a police car pulled up alongside them in the parking lot and Velez asked him: "What did you say?"
"At this point, I was thinking 'This guy's a hot head,' and tried to diffuse the situation," Omar aid in a follow-up post on his YouTube video. "We kept going back and forth, but the officer said, 'if you were a man, you would say something to my face.' The officer also said,'you are a coward.' At that point, he started backing up and I said, 'Sir, you have a badge and uniform and represent the state of NJ, and you act like that?'"
Omar said that the officer then approached him again, calling him a coward.
"I am confident he was trying to provoke me into saying or doing something that would warrant an arrest, so I just repeated 'I will see you in court,' at which point I offered to shake his hand, but he just walked away," Omar said on his YouTube channel.
Omar said he contacted Clifton police and "initiated a case with internal affairs about a week after it happened."
"The Clifton Police Department is aware of the incident," Detective Sgt. Robert Bracken said Monday. "Internal Affairs matters are confidential, therefore, we will not be commenting on the incident at this time."
Since it was posted on April 22, the video of the incident has had more than 413,000 views. Omar is due to appear in court for the summonses later this month.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.