Bridgewater Township settles with family of Black teen over viral mall fight video

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Friday, February 23, 2024
New details on Bridgewater settlement with Black teen over mall fight
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BRIDGEWATER, New Jersey (WABC) -- A town in New Jersey reached a settlement with the family of a Black boy after a hugely controversial mall fight between teenagers raised questions about the actions police officers took to break it up.

Video of the incident from 2022 went viral, showing officers pushing a Black 14-year-old boy named Z'Kye Husain to the ground, while another teen, thought to be white, was allowed to sit on a chair and was not handcuffed.

Toni Yates reports on the police response to a fight at the Bridgewater Commons Mall sparking outrage and on the current internal affairs investigation.

Husain's family recently settled the matter with the Bridgewater Police, but their lawyers say this is a bigger problem that points to bias and discrimination.

The feeling in the Black community is that when officers see them, they automatically think they are an aggressor or suspect.

"That's how they see our children far too often as predators," attorney Ben Crump said.

Video of this particular incident has become a prime example of that belief.

It happened at the mall in Bridgewater, New Jersey as officers responded to the fight that took place on Feb. 12, 2022.

The officers separated the combatants but restrained Husain, by handcuffing and forcing their knees into his back while he was face down on the ground.

Meanwhile, the light-skinned 15-year-old who is Hispanic was allowed to sit on the couch and watch.

Both kids had thrown a good volley of punches, with the 15-year-old kid getting the upper hand on the 14-year-old as they traded heavy blows before officers arrived.

The NAACP says they wanted to use this confrontation as a teachable moment hoping the Bridgewater Police would acknowledge their mistake, but that didn't happen, and it only led to more mistrust between cops and the community.

RELATED | Civil rights leaders rally behind NJ teen in viral mall fight video

Civil rights leaders rallied behind a teen from New Jersey who they say was the victim of racial bias during a fight at the Bridgewater Commons Mall. Eyewitness News reporter Toni

"It was a bad thing the officers did, let's try to use it as a teachable moment," Crump said. "They scoffed at it. Almost as if Z'Kye doesn't matter."

Husain and his family joined the NAACP in calling for more transparency and better training and called on the state attorney general to release his report on the Bridgewater incident.

"We could have visual evidence, ocular proof of police officers doing nefarious things to our children and yet nothing happens to them," Crump said.

The NAACP said they are going to start a training program of their own for police officers, and they are going to monitor the number of officers in the state of New Jersey that take that program.

They hope it will build more trust between police and the Black community.


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