WILDWOOD — The chief of police is warning against a "rush to judgment" about a video showing an officer punching a man on the street.

"There is a large amount of context that has not been displayed in this 18-second video clip," chief Robert N. Regalbuto said in a statement about the clip, which shows an officer he identified as Lucas Bottoms striking Kevin Piccolo, 55, of Pompton Plains. Regalbuto said Bottoms responded to a call about a person causing a disturbance near Roberts and New Jersey Avenues on Saturday around 7 p.m.

"Mr. Piccolo was refusing to comply with the Officer's commands through both verbal and physical obstruction. Mr. Piccolo was brought under control only after the Officer was forced to escalate his force to that of striking Mr. Piccolo once, at which time he was taken into custody," Regalbuto said.

Regalbuto said the investigation into the incident was turned over to the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office, and Bottoms was placed on "restricted duty assignment." Piccolo was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He has a July 7 court date.

He also said that should the investigation show the use of force was excessive, "then the Officer will be held accountable for his actions."

"As with any use of force, regardless of the type of force utilized, the use of force is never pretty," the chief wrote. "We encourage our residents, visitors and anyone who has viewed or may view this video, not to rush to judgment too quickly, either upon the officer or the men and women serving on the Wildwood Police Department."

The chief also thanked Shaquana Howell, the person who posted the video.

"We also encourage others who may witness officers doing something that they believe to be inappropriate, and bring that information forward as well," Regalbuto wrote.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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