Choir boys claim they were beaten by NJ cops

January 27, 2010 8:39:06 PM PST
Two teenagers are alleging police brutality after they say they were attacked and beaten for no reason. The teens, 17 and 19 years old, were trying to catch a cab after a birthday party in New Jersey when cops showed up. One asked them what was going on, and they say that's when the violence began.

The incident happened on January 16 at the Country Inn Hotel in New Jersey.

"I'm just so upset right now," Angela Douglas said. "It's so disturbing."

It is disturbing for Douglas to hear her two boys describe the night they say they were beaten by Elizabeth police officers.

Pictures show the lacerations and bruises that resulted.

"They just kept beating me," Joshua Tolbert said. "Kicking me, hitting me and punching me."

"Choked my brother up," Clarence Tolbert said. "They had a knee in my back and I just looked up. There were like four cops on my brother."

The two brothers were at a birthday party at a Marriott before walking across the street to the Country Inn to catch a cab. They say they spoke to a hotel clerk who gave them the number for a cab company.

Police came into the lobby to investigate some sort of incident, and when the older teen asked them what was going on, that's when the boys say they were attacked by officers with bruising fists and biting words.

"They were saying stuff like, 'This is Jesse Jackson, you want to see the real Jesse Jackson?' Clarence said. "'And Martin Luther King Day is coming up, so y'all gonna get a behind whooping today."

The brothers play in a church Gospel band and are apparently well-known in the Newark and Elizabeth church community. They say they were doing nothing wrong. So along with community activist Salaam Ismial, they filed a complaint at police headquarters Tuesday, 10 days after the incident.

The mayor's office confirmed that a complaint was filed and that internal affairs is investigating.

Angela says she just wants justice for her boys. Joshua says he just wants to feel normal again around police officers.

"I'm nervous," he said. "I'm terrified. It just shakes me up every time I see them, every time."

The brothers were charged with trespassing, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. In court Wednesday, the assaulting a police officer charge was downgraded to simple assault.