“I’m on camera,” Trenton Police Sgt. Charles Lamin said, attempting to warn his colleagues about the presence of his Body Camera, as they bragged about getting away with using excessive force.
The topic of conversation among the officers in the patrol car was on the best way to subdue a suspect. Prior to Lamin’s warning, city police officer Tim Miller had been bragging about using “veteran moves.”
“What was the veteran moves?” Officer Gloria Garcia inquired.
Another female officer responded, “He gonna pull out the flashlight.”
“I ain’t putting nobody in the hospital, bro,” Lamin said.
“Know what you do? You go for major muscles groups,” Miller bragged.
“I’m on camera,” Lamin warned. As if he didn’t care about the presence of the camera, Miller repeated, “Major muscle groups.”
A report from The Trentonian noted that Miller has been with the department for 13 years and is paid an annual salary of $99,838 and Lamin has been with the department for 14 years and is paid an annual salary of $106,158.
Miller also appeared to reference Trenton Detective Travis Maxwell, who was responsible for the police shooting that killed Aaron Veh Carter in 2011. Maxwell claimed he shot Carter multiple times in self-defense.
However, Maxwell’s actions following the fatal shooting serve as a reminder that often times, when police officers are not held accountable for their actions, they go on to commit similar—if not worse—crimes against the public. In Maxwell’s case he was recently named in a lawsuit the city settled last year for $213,000, according to The Trentonian.
The recent conversation from the officers in the patrol car involving Maxwell was about an encounter with a suspect in which the officers involved threw up him up the stairs before arresting him.
“Boom, I hit him so hard I broke the battery inside,” Miller bragged, flaunting the fact that he used his flashlight to strike the suspect multiple times.
The officers also discussed their involvement in a shooting that could have claimed the life of a man who was shot in the head.
“Is it a bullet or a pimple?” Lamin said.
“Yeah, one of those,” Garcia replied.
“A big black head,” Lamin continued.
Watch the full video of the Body Cam footage below:
In response to the cavalier commentary from the officers, Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson called for the police director to expedite an internal affairs investigation into the conduct exhibited by Lamin, Miller and Garcia.
“I strongly condemn any use of excessive force and the boasting about it by police officers,” Jackson said. “This behavior is intolerable; violates the public trust and department policy; and erodes the goodwill police are building with city residents and community stakeholders. We will act quickly and deliberately to hold officers accountable for engaging in conduct that denigrates community relations and the police uniform.”
In a statement to the Trentonian, the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union described the video as “despicable” and called for “police accountability now.”
“There needs to be an immediate, transparent, thorough investigation, not just of this incident or these officers, but into whether the Trenton Police Department has a culture that encourages the use of excessive force against Trentonians. It’s chilling to hear officers bragging about beating people with flashlights until the batteries break and imparting lessons on the best ways to assault someone without leaving marks. At a time when officer misconduct has fueled police-community tensions nationwide, these abuses of authority only serve to further erode trust, damage relationships, and perpetuate serious harm, especially in communities of color disproportionately affected by police violence.”
Police Director Ernest Parrey Jr. did not respond to a request from The Trentonian. However, the newspaper noted that he has not responded to any of its inquiries since it published Body Cam footage that showed him “calling residents ‘hood rats’ and making an illegal traffic stop.”
As is evident in this story, the use of excessive force by police has become so common that in some departments, it is joked about openly among officers. The fact that the presence of a camera recording their commentary did not seem to deter the officers involved is a testament to the fact that in the majority of cases, even when officers are caught on video clearly using excessive force, they are rarely held accountable for their actions.