A New Jersey teenager has claimed that police who arrested him and dislocated his shoulder earlier this month targeted him because he is black.
The 14-year-old now plans to sue the Newark Police Department for misconduct, his lawyer said Thursday, according to the New York Daily News.
One officer has been suspended and others are being investigated.
The teen, Jamod Watkins, was on his way to the grocery store just after 7 p.m. February 2 when several police in a black SUV stopped him and shined a light in his face, according to court papers.
Watkins said that when he tried to flee, two or more unmarked vehicles surrounded him before the men in the SUV identified themselves as police officers.
Though Watkins claimed that none of the officers flashed a badge, he said he stopped and raised his hands. After this, Watkins said cops knocked him to the ground and pushed his face into the sidewalk. One of the officers then allegedly put his knee to the teen’s back and pulled Watkins’ arm behind him hard enough to make a loud pop sound.
“What gang are you with?” the cops reportedly asked the eighth grade student as they rummaged through his pockets and felt around his pants and crotch for a weapon or drugs. “What f***king gang are you with?”
Several minutes later, the cops released Watkins after finding nothing, leaving him on the street despite his requests for medical attention, the teen claimed.
“I was petrified,” Watkins, a star basketball player at his middle school, told the Daily News. “I had no idea they were cops. They were not wearing uniforms, they had no badges and they were driving black SUVs. I thought they were going to mug me so I ran. The second they said they were police I stopped and froze. Why did they have to hurt me like that?”
The teen’s lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold said her client had to walk home three blocks by himself in pain from a broken, dislocated shoulder. His mother reported the incident to police and took her son to the hospital.
“The only crime he commits is he’s walking with black skin,” Arnold said. “This is pure unadulterated abuse of power.”
A few days after the incident, Newark detective Wilberto Ruiz was suspended for waiting more than 24 hours to report the stop, part of which was recorded on video.
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) February 3, 2016
Acting Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose assured that other members of Newark’s gang enforcement unit were being reassigned and investigated. The Essex County prosecutor’s office is also investigating, the Daily News reported.
“My son didn’t deserve this,” the boy’s mother, Shaquanna Watkins told the Daily News. “He is so upset. He is afraid to go out. None of us can sleep, We are all so traumatized by this. Why are those cops still walking the street and getting paid by the town? They should be in jail. Just because you are a cop doesn’t give you carte blanche to beat up on young boys. They said freeze and Jamod froze. Why did they have to break his arm in half? He is just a boy.”
(H/T: New York Daily News)