In light of an alleged drunk driving incident earlier this month, about 50 activists came out to rally in support of Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement Executive Director Pamela Johnson, where they alleged an officer used excessive force during her arrest.
“We’re gonna ask three things for the police department to do. Three things that they should be able to do. Number one, we’re gonna ask the state attorney general to investigate Matthew Kilroy’s excessive force allegations – all of them, not just Pam’s,” said Bruce Alston, who helped organize the march to the West District Police Station.
“Number two, we’re gonna ask Director Shea and Chief Kelly to place this officer not on suspension, but modified duty, until that investigation is completed.”
Alston also called on City Hall to host community meetings where they will explain when it’s appropriate for officers to use force during an arrest.
Back on May 7th, Johnson, 45, was pulled over by Kilroy, a police sergeant, and is accused of threatening to have Mayor Steven Fulop and Chief Michael Kelly discipline him if he did not let her go, despite him suspecting her of driving drunk.
She was ultimately charged with DWI, resisting arrest and making threats or other improper influence, according to police.
According to Chris Gadsden, the Lincoln High School principal and a former Ward B councilman, Johnson should have received a higher level of respect when she was pulled over based upon her years of work within the community.
“When you put in work, you are entitled to another level of respect. Pam is not the average person … that’s the disrespect to me,” he explained, saying that Kilroy should’ve approached the situation differently.
The police report acknowledges that Kilroy took Johnson to the ground during her arrest, though he justifies it by saying she was resisting being taken into custody.
From there, it largely remains a mystery as to what exactly happened that night: an Open Public Records Act request filed on May 13th seeking police radio transmissions, body camera and dashboard camera footage has yet to be answered.
Today, the Jersey City Clerk’s Office asked for a two-week extension on that request, citing that they had no records to provide at this time.
‘Furthermore, no one at the rally presented a full narrative of what happened from Johnson’s perspective, including Johnson herself, who was wearing a sling on her right arm and kept her remarks very brief.
“I just want to say that a lot happened that night and some things should not have happened. But it did. I want to thank you guys for all your prayers and all the messages I’ve been getting,” she said through tears.
Johnson also specifically thanked her mother, who she said was not allowed inside the precinct after she was arrested.
City spokeswoman Kim Wallace-Scalcione did not address any of the allegations made against Kilroy, but praised Johnson for her body of work.
“Pamela Johnson has been a long time community advocate helping the city on the anti-violence front, and she has helped us achieve the violent crime reductions we have seen over the last year,” she said in an email.
The incident will resolve itself via the court system at a later date, and Pam is entitled to that process.”
Johnson is also a member of the Public Safety Community Advisory Board, a volunteer position, and she has not been asked to leave that post, Wallace Scalcione added.