Use of force investigated in Newark arrest

March 12, 2010 4:05:57 PM PST
It all began when a jeep left the scene of accident at Chester Avenue on McCarter highway. If you look closely at the video, you can see its front hood still smoking.

First the fire department chased the s-u-v, and then police officers catch up with the driver, 23-year-old Jamil Richardson of Newark.

"The vehicle that was apparently being pursued, struck a utility pole and knocked it down, almost crashing into a police car," Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy said.

Information to keep in mind, says McCarthy, because what happens next in the video certainly raises eyebrows. Police try to subdue the driver. He comes out of the vehicle with his hands where cops can see them. Then, after two officers already have him on the ground, a third cop kicks him twice.

"We're going to have to speak to the officer because you know what? Looking at a video doesn't tell you what's inside the officer's mind," McCarthy said.

The police director also insisted in the arrest report something else occurred in the short time that a car blocks the camera's view before Richardson is apprehended.

"He states that as he approached and went to get Mr. Richardson out of the vehicle, he was pushed. Mr. Richardson pushed him," McCarthy said.

Responding to our question about whether such force is necessary when a suspect is already on the ground.

"Ground is not subdued. I've been on the ground for ten minutes fighting with people," McCarthy said.

As for Mr. Richardson, police say, they believe he was definitely drunk while driving.

"I'm not sure he even knows what occurred," McCarthy said.

At least one black community leader joined the chief in reserving judgment until the investigation is complete.

"Let us look at the facts. It is important that we don't get excited by what we think we might see," Rev. Jethro C. James of the Newark North Jersey Black Church Men said.