Paterson, NJ — Residents of Paterson, New Jersey are expressing their outrage online after a video was taken and uploaded to social media which appears to show police officers using excessive force while arresting a deaf man.
According to police, they were conducting a traffic stop in the area at the time for alleged drug possession. At some time during the stop, residents came out to see what was going on.
As the video shows, the deaf man, identified by law enforcement sources as Raaseon Adams, begins verbally engaging with the officers. According to police, Adams was not in the vehicle they stopped for alleged drug activity.
The 12-minute video begins with an officer saying to Adams, “Can I help you?” Multiple people then begin shouting at the officers to tell them that Adams is deaf. One of the officers acknowledges this.
“Come on, you bugging,” the woman tells Adams, who clearly should’ve listened.
Moments later, an officer is seen in the video pushing Adams away from him.
“Yo, get away from me,” the officer says. “Keep walking.”
Naturally, Adams did not respond well to being pushed by the officer, so he voiced his anger even louder.
As Adams continues to verbally engage the officer, using an inaudible voice likely due to his being deaf, the officer appears to taunt and laugh at him.
Police claim that Adams then threw “something” at the laughing officer which caused them to move in to make the arrest.
At the 3:27 mark in the video below, we can see that Adams appears to throw something at the cop—but it was so small that it did absolutely nothing to him. It simply bounced off the officer and fell to the ground. Adams was holding a Styrofoam cup earlier in the video and is not holding it when he is arrested, so it could’ve been that. While it is certainly wrong to throw things at people, many would consider this far less serious than the push Adams received from one of the cops just moments before.
However, the officer was having none of it, so he and his fellow cops moved in for the arrest.
Adams, likely thinking he’d done nothing wrong did not want to be arrested and force was escalated.
Just relax,” a woman says. “Don’t mace him. He going to relax.”
Almost on cue, the officer then pulls out his pepper spray and hits Adams in the face with it. Moments later an officer begins striking him in the head with his elbow.
The force was so excessive to the witnesses that they surrounded the officers and began screaming for them to stop. A riot appeared to be on the verge as glass bottles can be heard shattering in the background.
Eventually, the injured Adams is handcuffed and hauled away. He is facing charges of resisting arrest and is still in jail.
“I am aware of the video. We’re taking this situation very seriously,” Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said Monday. “We’ve taken this so seriously that we’ve referred the matter to the prosecutor’s office so that an independent investigation can be conducted.”
Sadly, this video is serving to divide the community even further.
According to News 12 New Jersey, Eighteen-year-old Miguel Avila says that he believes that the divide between the community and Paterson Police Department is so deep that young people cannot even choose to become police officers.
“If we [become] police officers, it’s like us betraying the people…we care for and love,” he says. “It’s like it’s going to be us against them, basically.”
“[This] makes the city of Paterson be afraid of the officers,” says Samuel Sparks who witnessed the arrest. “There’s a lot that needs to be done…I’m not saying the streets is always right and I’m not saying the officers [are] always right, but right is right and wrong is wrong.”
According to the department, however, the officers were right and Paterson’s police chief said the officer showed great restraint. None of them have been suspended.
When watching the video below, let us know if you think the force the officers used to arrest Adams was justified.