New Jersey police are being criticized for their handling of a fistfight between a Black eighth grader and a white teenager in a weekend mall scuffle. The latter was handcuffed and pinned to the ground, while the former was left sitting on a couch.
The fight took place at Bridgewater Commons in Bridgewater Township. It was caught on video. This prompted a review and strong words from Governor Chris Christie.
The incident was captured on video. It shows young people gathering in a mall seating area and two black boys, one of them white, getting into a verbal fight.
Z'Kye Husain (Black teen), said that the dispute began when he criticized the older boy for picking on his friend.
He said NBC New York that he was saying "You're a little child, you're mine," and other similar phrases.
According to video, the confrontation escalated with both parties throwing punches at one another while onlookers shouted.
After several seconds of punching the victims, two uniformed Bridgewater officers arrived on the scene and took them apart.
According to video, one officer forced the white teenager into a seated position.
Z'Kye was already lying on his stomach and was being held by a male officer. The officer's knee appeared to be on Z'Kye's back. According to the clip, a female officer assisted Z'Kye by placing her knee close to his neck.
The background person can be heard saying "Yo, it is 'cause' he's Black." Racially motivated
Z'Kye was restrained by the officers, and the white teen seemed to be unaffected.
Z'Kye stated that he was restrained because he knew not to fear. Keep calm, don't move, and do the things they tell you to.
Ebone, his mother, was furious. She had only given her first name to NBC New York.
It doesn't take more than two cops to keep a 14-year old boy down, who isn't resisting, and the other boy is kind of going wild and still going after my son. She said that it didn't make any sense.
Bridgewater Commons stated that Z'Kye as well as the other teen involved were banned from the mall for three consecutive years.
Ebone stated that it was unfair that we have to constantly fear the police. It was a good thing that there were so many eyes watching the situation. I don't know what might have happened.
Bridgewater Police Department addressed Monday's incident in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
The statement stated that "we recognize that this video has caused members of our community to be upset" and called for an investigation into internal affairs.
Police ask anyone who has video of the incident, to share it with them. They also asked the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office for an independent review of officers' conduct.
Matthew Moench, Bridgewater Township Mayor, acknowledged Tuesday's video and New Jersey Governor. Phil Murphy expressed concern.
Moench stated that New Jersey's state attorney general has codified the rules regarding the use of force by officers.
Moench stated that he was confident that the Prosecutor will conduct an impartial, objective, and thorough review. "I would like to thank the public, for not jumping to conclusions during an investigation."
Murphy stated that he was deeply disturbed by the video's racially disparate treatment. We are committed to increasing trust between law enforcement officers and those they serve.
The law firm announced Thursday that Z'Kye's family had retained Ben Crump as a civil rights attorney. Crump identified Crump's white teen as an eleventh grader.
"Z'Kye (8th grader) was a good-hearted person who defended his friend from bullying. However, officers quickly assumed that Z'Kye's actions were not possible because of Z'Kye's skin color. He said, "That video speaks for itself."
Crump said that Z'Kye was not a greater threat to officers than the white teenager who fought alongside him. This is yet another example of the racial bias we must eradicate from our police system. To overcome implicit biases that result in unjust and sometimes dangerous treatment of Blacks, these officers should be disciplined and retrained.