Paterson officer faces charges for allegedly assaulting man with flashlight

New police body camera video obtained by News 12 New Jersey appears to show a Paterson police officer allegedly violently beating a man.

News 12 Staff

Jun 29, 2021, 2:27 AM

Updated 1,024 days ago

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New police body camera video obtained by News 12 New Jersey appears to show a Paterson police officer allegedly violently beating a man.
Officer Spencer Finch is now facing assault charges. He is one of more than 10 Paterson police officers to face criminal charges over the last year.
The incident with Finch stems from an apparent domestic incident that began with an officer trying to reduce the tension, and ends with a beatdown.
In the video, the victim is heard speaking with responding officers.
“This is the third time my kids have been taken from me,” the victim is heard saying. Finch then appears to strike the victim.
The video appears to show Finch allegedly striking the victim in the head, and then more blows with what looks like a flashlight.
Finch, who has been on the job for nearly 20 years, is also accused of trying to cover up the incident.
The Paterson mayor’s office released the video as the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office investigates.
"In the spirit of accountability, transparency and building trust with the community we want to make sure we are as transparent as possible,” says Mayor Andre Sayegh.
Police departments in New Jersey are now required to equip officers with body cameras. But more than half of the officers in Paterson still do not have them.
Finch did not turn his body camera on for this call. Another responding officer did. That officer was not identified. But he could be heard trying to calm down the situation.
The incident stemmed from a custody battle between the victim and the mother of his children.
"She works tomorrow. I already called out of work. I don't work tomorrow. I can have my [expletive] kids…This is the third time she took my [expletive] kids from me, man,” the victim is heard saying.
The video shows this going on for about two minutes. That's when Finch comes in.
"Are you a father…you don't understand, this is the third time my kids have been taken from me,” the victim says, getting visibly upset.
The officers tell him not to yell. This is when the victim is smacked. The last few seconds of the video show that the victim is in handcuffs.
Finch has been accused of excessive force before. The city had to pay hundreds of thousands in the case.
"The ultimate outcome is so officers don't act like this knowing that there are video cameras,” says former Bergen County public safety director Brian Higgins.
Higgins says that so far, the charges against Finch seem to be correct. He says that body cameras are needed to improve policing.
"This is still very rare compared to what the average police officer does every day. They're doing a great job,” Higgins says.
Finch has been suspended from the force in the wake of the charges. The mayor says that he is doing everything he can to "separate" Finch from the force. The local chapter of Black Lives Matter is flooding city hall with calls demanding Finch to be fired.


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