Clifton, NJ cop seen on tape slapping teenager

April 27, 2012 3:10:57 PM PDT
A Clifton, New Jersey police officer is facing questions after appearing on tape throwing a punch at a teenage boy.

The video shows 15-year-old Alex Cruz going at it with a Clifton police officer in a video plastered all over YouTube.

First he's pushed to the ground, but he gets up and runs at the officer and appears to slap him across the face and an all out altercation breaks out.

"He pushed me and hit me and the other cop came and choked me," said Cruz.

Alex has a cut under his eye and a court ordered electronic monitor around his ankle.

Telling his story Exclusively to Eyewitness News, he says he was just trying to break up a fight between his girlfriend and another girl when the officers showed up.

"He said I hit him before everything happened and I didn't," adds Cruz.

Clifton police have seen the video and are investigating but so far standing by the officer's use of force.

"Whatever force is reasonable in overcoming the force the suspect is using against the officer," said Det. Robert Bracken.

And what's more, police say once they finally got him cuffed, his attitude didn't get any better.

"Upon arrival at headquarters he continued his belligerent aggressive behavior toward officers... He began spitting on the floors of the police department," adds Cruz.

Even though Alex says he did nothing wrong, he would do something different next time.

"I could have let them do what whatever," he adds.

No one involved says the officer didn't hit Alex, the question is, was he justified in doing so.

Alex will face his charges in juvenile court. The Internal Affairs investigation continues, but the officer remains on active duty.

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