Newark police officer suspended after 14-year-old boy's shoulder dislocated

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Darla Miles is live with the details.

In an update to a story you saw only on Eyewitness News, acting Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose on Thursday announced the suspension of a two-year veteran of the force for failing to submit reports documenting the stop of a 14-year-old Newark juvenile.

Detective Wilberto Ruiz, who joined the Department in March 2014, was assigned to the Gang Enforcement Unit. While Ruiz has been suspended, other members of the unit are being re-assigned and investigated relative to a surveillance video capturing the stop of Jamod Watkins at the intersection of 14th Street and 14th Avenue.

Watkins and his mother reported the incident to the 4th Precinct, saying that he was roughed up during the encounter. During the investigation, it was determined that the incident involved officers from the Newark Police Department and one officer from the Essex County Sheriff's Department.

Ruiz's suspension comes after investigators found that he failed to document the stop and his actions until 24 hours after the incident.

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office was notified and is handling the alleged assault investigation.

"Although this investigation is in its early stages, we have determined that the incident does involve members of the Newark Police Department," Ambrose said. "This is an unfortunate incident; however, it is not a reflection on the entire department, but on the actions of a few. The majority of the men and women of the department are hard working professionals who are committed to making Newark safer. I will not tolerate officers' behavior that violates laws to enforce laws or actions that violate our state laws or the Department's rules and regulations that govern us."

Watkins, a star athlete at his school, said undercover officers dislocated his shoulder after a case of mistaken identity. The scared eighth grader started running when several cars stopped around him.

"I didn't know what to do. That's why I ran," said Watkins, who stands 5-feet, 11 inches tall and plays basketball and baseball for his school.

He said at least a half-dozen officers were there, and they caught up to him.

"They slammed me on the ground, pulled my arm back. My arm popped," said Watkins. "Then they picked me up, threw me in the car and had me in handcuffs."

He said they started talking to him.

"They was like, 'you're a gang banger. Oh, You go to West Side.' I'm like 'no, I go to South 16th Street School. I'm only in the eighth grade,'" said Watkins.

Part of the incident can be seen in surveillance video, which was exclusively obtained by Eyewitness News. It shows two black SUVs and one Crown Victoria car with flashing lights pull up beside the teen.

Watkins said the officers never identified themselves and never showed badgees -- and after they put him in handcuffs, they dislocated his shoulder.

When he said he asked for medical attention, Watkins said the officers left him in the middle of the street.

He said he walked home, crying in pain.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Professional Standards Bureau at (862) 520-3700)
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