Legal battle ignites as Paterson moves to fire police officer accused of assault

A legal battle is underway over a Paterson police officer who is accused of assault and trying to cover it up.

News 12 Staff

Jul 1, 2021, 12:57 AM

Updated 1,024 days ago

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A legal battle is underway over a Paterson police officer who is accused of assault and trying to cover it up.
The city has begun the process of firing Officer Spencer Finch, in a move Mayor Andre Sayegh calls “unprecedented.”
The battle is because the city is trying to fire Finch before he has his day in court. Finch was charged after another officer’s body camera caught Finch allegedly assaulting a man during a call about a custody dispute. Finch is allegedly seen striking the man with his hands and a flashlight.
Finch has been suspended without pay in the wake of the charges. But that will change in a few days. The paychecks will start coming in again even as Finch is off the streets.
The move to fire Finch comes as dozens of community groups in New Jersey come together. Some activists say that any officer with an excessive force complaint should be fired and that it should be the norm.
“When an officer does harm to the community, there has to be some level of accountability. Quick and swift. It shouldn’t take a year, it shouldn’t take two years. And the officer definitely shouldn’t remain on the police force collecting a salary and he shouldn’t have the opportunity to retire with benefits and pension,” says Zellie Thomas, of the Paterson chapter of Black Lives Matter.
An attorney for Finch ripped into the mayor of Paterson, saying, "His actions violate not only the contract the City has with its Police Department, but it defies the constitutional principles of due process and presumption of innocence for all."
The attorney’s statement continued, "We will do all that is necessary to reverse the actions taken by this mayor who has succumbed to political pressure in an attempt to gather voter support."
An attorney for the city of Paterson says that they believe that the city does have the legal right to fire Finch after consulting with the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office.


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