‘Video shows truth’ — NJ investigates cops’ beating of teen
PATERSON — The state Attorney General's Office is investigating a December arrest of a 19-year-old city resident who was seen on surveillance video being beaten by police officers.
The young man said he was accosted by police for no reason and beaten a second time — after he was released from the hospital following his first police encounter — leaving him partially blind for several weeks.
Osamah Alsaidi posted part of a police report as well as the video on his Facebook page on Friday. The video appears to contradict and call into question what police claimed in their report, prompting a civil rights organization to call for the firing of the officers.
City officials said the Dec. 14 arrest — which the police report claims was prompted by call reporting a "suspicious person" — was being investigated by the police department's internal affairs unit as well as the county prosecutor's office. The Attorney General's Office said Monday that it was investigating.
The video, which has no audio, shows two officers getting out of their vehicle to confront Alsaidi as he walked along Madison Avenue in front of Passaic Tire. As one officer holds him, the other punches him several times before forcing him to the ground. When two more officers arrive, one of them directs two onlookers away from the scene while the other helps cuff Alsaidi.
In his Facebook post, Alsaidi said he was walking to his car to go to work when the officers approached him.
The police report presents a different picture than what can be seen on the video clip.
Police said Alsaidi "walked towards these officers screaming profanities and acting belligerent causing a disturbance to the residents around the surrounding area," according to the narrative of the police report posted by Alsaidi on his Facebook page.
Police then said Alsaidi "proceeded to get in an aggressive fighting stance by blading his body and clutching his fist" and then "proceeded to get closer to this writer and struck this writer with a closed fist about the chest area causing this writer to stumble back." Police added that Alsaidi tried to grab the officer's radio.
None of this can be seen in the video, which does show police pulling their car in front of Alsaidi and then immediately getting out to grab and hit him.
"The video shows the truth, it shows what actually happened. These officers came out of nowhere to block me from walking and beat me up on my own block," Alsaidi said in Facebook.
The report says he was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Alsaidi said the officer who brought him to a hospital ordered him released after Alsaidi told a nurse how he was injured. As a handcuffed Alsaidi tried to get back into the police car, he said the officer "punched me, threw me into the car, and slammed the door."
"After I was released, I had to go to the hospital on my own and I was diagnosed with head trauma and concussion (I have the papers from the hospital). I was having migraines and was partially blind for the next couple of weeks," Alsaidi wrote.
Paterson Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale told New Jersey 101.5 on Monday that the incident has been under investigation.
"It's been under investigation by the Paterson police department internal affairs and it has been turned over to the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office for further investigation," Speziale said before word of the state's investigation.
Speziale would not reveal whether the officers remain on duty.
CAIR-New Jersey, whose stated mission is to "enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding," is calling for two of the officers involved to be fired.
"The teen posed no visible threat to either officer and was not given an opportunity to comply with the officer’s orders — assuming any orders were even given. Instead, the teen was brutalized while two additional offices came to clear the area of witnesses. He was later diagnosed with head trauma and a concussion," CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said in a written statement.
“We are calling for the immediate termination of the two officers for their brutality and their attempt to cover up their crime. Anything less than termination would be an insult to the residents of Paterson, and an affront to justice," Maksut said. "Furthermore, a thorough and transparent investigation into the involvement of the other two officers is needed immediately."
The Office of Public Integrity and Accountability within the Attorney General's office ask for anyone with information or video of the incident to call 844-674-2847 (844-OPIA-TIP)
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