SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — A South Orange Police Officer has been administratively charged following a Use of Force Incident on Jan. 22; SOPD is seeking his removal.

The officer arrested a suspect the vicinity of the South Orange Train Station on Sloan Street at 12:05 a.m. that day; suspects are always innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The camera recording the incident faced the back seat of the patrol car and recorded as at about minute 10:38 the officer hit the suspect on the side of the head several times while another officer was trying to get the man to get into the car.

Later that day, said a statement issued on the South Orange Village website, "the South Orange Police Department, as part of its standard protocol and procedures, reviewed the video of an incident that had occurred earlier that day at 12:05 a.m. The video showed that force was used during the arrest of a suspect who had allegedly committed a criminal offense." The Use of Force Incident video may be downloaded and viewed; viewer discretion is advised.

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That same day, the statement said, "it was determined that the force utilized by the officer may have been in violation of SOPD policies, rules, and New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines pertaining to use of force and its appropriateness. Subsequently, the officer was immediately suspended pending an investigation, which was referred to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Professional Standards Bureau. The Bureau ultimately determined that criminal charges would not be sought against the officer and referred the matter back to the SOPD for an Internal Affairs investigation with respect to administrative charges."

The statement continued, "At this time, the SOPD Internal Affairs Bureau has completed its review, and the officer has been issued a preliminary notice of disciplinary action seeking the officer’s removal. Pending the outcome of a hearing, the officer will remain suspended. The SOPD takes all use of force incidents seriously and has a zero tolerance policy toward any violation. The department reviews every use of force incident for compliance and mandates semi-annual training and policy review to ensure its officers are best equipped to handle these situations appropriately. "

It concluded, "The South Orange Village President and Board of Trustees remain committed to transparency and accountability. As indicated in January when notice of this incident was first shared with the community, the video of the incident would be made available after the conclusion of all investigations."

A hearing and its outcome is now pending.

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