Black activists in Jersey City say that newly released body cam footage from a May 5th street brawl on Bostwick Avenue calls for the firing and indictment of a police officer who used his baton during the incident.
“We challenge the [county] prosecutor to actually go forth with indicting Officer [Bryant] Rowan and anyone who was on scene May 5th using that type of force. We do not want people to get slaps on the wrist. We want the same types of justice that’s taking place in Minnesota, that’s taking place in Buffalo,” said Jersey City NAACP PAC Chair Chris Gadsden.
” … The city owes the rest of us on Bostwick, the Gregory family, and everyone else an apology for what took place with their police department and the lies, the falsification of reports that went forward to justify the police actions that took place on May 5th.”
The morning of May 6th, Mayor Steven Fulop, Public Safety Director James Shea, and Police Chief Michael Kelly held a press conference stating that they felt the officers showed restraint after someone tried to grab an officer’s gun.
Gadsden and other pushed back on that narrative a couple days later, calling for Rowan’s suspension after a new cell phone video from the incident came to light – which has received over 18 million views to date on HCV’s Facebook page.
Now, following the release of 23 body camera videos from the incident by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, Gadsden was joined by others such as Frank “Educational” Gilmore in calling on the administration for an apology and an explanation.
“The tapes we’ve seen were beyond disturbing: the mayor, police chief, and public safety director, at best, flat out lied,” Gilmore stated.
“You can clearly see the action in the video of the young man pushing the officer, we’re not here condoning any violence placed on anyone, especially not the officers who serve and protect our community. But when you put out a narrative that the officer’s service belt was tugged at and then you show us video that clearly shows he did not tug at that officer’s belt.”
Black Men United Jersey City Founder Nevin Perkins added that he was particularly put off by Rowan’s actions since one of the men was hit with the police baton seven times after he had been maced.
“I don’t think I would classify deescalation tactics as pulling up out of my vehicle with a baton stick, with a bloodthirsty look in my eyes – ready for action.”
City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione sent out a statement doubling down on the administration’s initial position, including a four-second clip that showed a man’s left hand touching an officer’s service belt near his gun before appearing to shove him away.
“The city stands by its previous statements and this administration has a record of disciplining and firing officers that used force unnecessarily. In this situation however, the facts are that several officers were assaulted by the public as verified by both the body cameras and independent video,” she said.
” … As is policy, the city turned over all footage to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and a thorough investigation is underway. It is unfortunate that Chris Gadsden would like to exploit this situation with misinformation for personal gain and politicize violence against police officers.”
A spokesman for the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office said this afternoon that they do not comment on an ongoing investigation.
The body camera footage depict several new angles of instances that were already seen via cell phone footage, such as pepper spray being deployed and Rowan using his baton.
At least one video shows that a second officer briefly takes his baton out of his holster to help control the crowd, though it is not clear if he uses it or not.
Another one, where the camera was knocked to the ground, shows where the officer is shoved near his utility belt, immediately charging the aggressor after the fact.
“Kiki don’t move!,” a woman shouts. “Get the **** back!,” an officer yells and points back during a spat of violence where several people are on the ground.
A compilation video providing highlights of the body camera footage can be viewed below: