JERSEY CITY, NJ - Members of Jersey City’s African-American community are disputing assertions by Mayor Steven Fulop, Public Safety Director James Shea, and Police Chief Michael Kelly that the use of force by several members of the Jersey City Police Department was justified when confronted with a crowd of what some claimed was close to 100 people.
A video shot from above the scene of the Tuesday incident showed the officers using nightsticks in what appeared to be an effort to help rescue a fellow officer pinned down by two of those engaged in the fight.
Among those speaking was Chris Gadsden, a former member of the Jersey City Council and current chair of the NAACP political action committee. Gadsden believes that those who spoke in defense of the officers did so without having enough information, and that while he doesn’t disagree with the police clearing the street, or even their actions in detaining the person who assaulted the police officer, he feels that additional footage of the incident revealed possible misuse of the baton, and said the body cam footage should be released to the public
“Pepper spray was deployed by our officers and it had no effect,” Shea said following the incident. “Then the officer deployed his expandable baton which is designed to be used if the pepper spray does not work.” The officer used the baton against the two individuals who were wrestling with the officers, striking arms, legs and the buttocks, Shea said, as required by regulations.
The community leaders, also including Pamela Johnson, executive director of the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement and civic activist Frank Gilmore gathered at the sight of the street fight on Friday using the opportunity to call for the suspension of the police officer seen using the baton, as well as the creation of a civilian review board with the powers to discipline officers found to have used excess violence.
The incident, which led to five arrests and no serious injuries is currently under investigation by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and the Jersey City Police Department.
Editor's Note: The publisher of TAPinto Jersey City also serves as a communications consultant for the JCPOBA
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