Two Rutgers students claim excessive force

February 10, 2011 8:37:09 PM PST
For the second time this week, New Brunswick police are under scrutiny accused of excessive force against Rutgers students.

Two 19-year-old sophomores have now come forward telling Eyewitness News they were rousted from their beds, and punched and beaten by cops.

Thursday, they filed a federal lawsuit.

"I didn't hear anyone say 'police' or anything, I thought we were being robbed," said Jake Kostman, a Rutgers University student.

Two Rutgers roommates say they were sleeping in the early morning hours of December 10th and had no idea who was barging into the basement room they share in an off-campus house in New Brunswick.

"I got hit in the face; I got hit in the ribs. That's basically what happened," said Kareem Najjar, a Rutgers University student.

"I remember basically waking up to being hit, on the side of my face, on my back I got kicked a couple of times and stepped on," Kostman said.

Pictures show boot marks left on Kostman's back.

"One person was standing on my back another was standing on my head," Najjar said.

"It's really scary, really intimidating when there are people just yelling at your and hitting you, you don't believe that it's something that cops would do," Kostman said.

The roommates say it wasn't until they were handcuffed that they were told this was a raid by New Brunswick Police who apparently had a warrant for someone else in the house.

"You were never arrested?" Eyewitness News reporter Sarah Wallace asked.

"No, and we asked why we were being arrested and they said, 'you're not being arrested you are being detained'," Najjar said.

Once they were finally released, they say the cops had ransacked their room, and left them sitting for nearly two hours in their underwear in the cold.

Kostman claims his handcuffs were so tight and on for so long, he now has permanent nerve damage in his thumb.

"I don't think anyone should ever be allowed to just come into your house and just beat the crap out of you," Kostman said.

"All they had to do was flash a badge and it wouldn't have happened," Najjar said.

The students have now filed a federal lawsuit against the New Brunswick Police Department.

"They went and barged into an apartment, a basement apartment, that they had no right to be in, and then they assaulted and beat on my clients, that's illegal," said Bryan Konoski, Najjar and Kostman's attorney.

"I get that they have to take precautions, but for him to end up bleeding out of his head, and for me to have a scar on my back and still not be able to feel my thumb, and you know, just to be kicked and punched, and I just don't think it was at all appropriate," Kostman said.

One of the students told us that he was so traumatized by the whole experience; he's now moved home and commutes to school.

Eyewitness News left several messages for the New Brunswick Police Department but did not hear back The students, both 19 year old sophomores, are suing for $2 million in damages.

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