Video shows Paterson, NJ police officer punching suspect
PATERSON — Video has surfaced showing police beating a 19-year-old city resident who stopped and asked questions when he saw his older brother being questioned during a traffic stop.
Melissa Sanchez told NJ.com that she and her cousin Haneif Booker were leaving a store on Aug. 28 when they noticed Booker's brother with police on Sparrow Street.
A bottle was thrown toward police from a crowd, according to Sanchez, and three officers reacted by cuffing Booker, pulling their guns on both of them and stepping on Booker's back.
A crowd gathers outside a garage
Video of the incident obtained by NJ.com shows a crowd outside a garage yelling at the officers. The videographer gets inside the garage and takes footage of Booker being held facing the garage door. An officer punches Booker in the head and forces him down.
The videographer, who says he was touched and wants the officer's badge number, is pushed back to the driveway where officers hold small pepper spray canisters in their hands aimed at those in the driveway. Another officer sprays the videographer, who steps back and coughs but continues to record.
From a distance, Booker can be seen being walked from the garage by officers.
Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale on Monday morning did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for comment.
Bad apples in the Paterson PD
It's the latest black eye for Paterson police who have faced corruption and a lawsuit from its now former police chief.
Former police sergeant Michael Cheff was sentenced to three years in prison for being the leader of a group of officers that illegally stopped and searched numerous people and vehicles and stole thousands of dollars from them between 2016 and 2018. Five other officers pleaded guilty and testitifed against Cheff.
The former chief, Ibrahim Baycora, was fired Sept. 13 by Speziale and Mayor Andre Sayegh because of their disappointment in his job performance.
Just before his firing, Baycora filed a lawsuit against the city alleging Sayegh and Speziale acted to sabotage his position.
Deputy Chief Englebert Ribeiro was named interim chief.
WARNING: Video contains graphic violence