Residents outraged after viral video of police arresting deaf man
Residents of Paterson say that they are concerned and outraged after a viral video surfaced that appears to show police officers using excessive force while trying to arrest a deaf man.
Video obtained by News 12 New Jersey shows people trying to calm the man down during an altercation Friday. The man is seen throwing something at police officers and that’s when they move in to arrest him.
When the man refused to be handcuffed, police are seen using pepper spray against him and then punching him.
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh says that an investigation into the video is underway.
“I am aware of the video. We’re taking this situation very seriously,” Sayegh said Monday. “We’ve taken this so seriously that we’ve referred the matter to the prosecutor’s office so that an independent investigation can be conducted.”
Two of the men who took videos of the incident tell News 12 that they know the deaf man from the neighborhood and that they believe what happened was excessive force.
“[This] makes the city of Paterson be afraid of the officers,” says Samuel Sparks. There's a lot that needs to be done…I'm not saying the streets is always right and I'm not saying the officers [are] always right, but right is right and wrong is wrong.”
Eighteen-year-old Miguel Avila says that he believes that the divide between the community and Paterson Police Department is so deep that young people cannot even choose to become police officers.
“If we [become] police officers, it’s like us betraying the people…we care for and love,” he says. “It’s like it’s going to be us against them, basically.”
Police were on the street Friday apparently making a car stop and drug arrest at the time of the arrest. In an interview with the Bergen Record, Paterson's police chief said the officer showed great restraint.
The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office confirmed it is investigating.