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Questions After NJ Cops Pin Black Teen To Ground While White Teen He'd Been In Altercation With Sits On Couch
“It doesn’t take two cops to hold a 14-year-old boy down who’s not resisting, while the other boy is just kind of going free and still going off on my son,” Z'Kye Husain's mother said after video footage surfaced of the interaction.
A New Jersey Police department is facing backlash for how officers handled a fight between two teens at a mall after they were captured on video pinning the Black teenager on the ground and handcuffing him, while the white teen looks on from a nearby couch.
The fight broke out between the two teen Saturday at Bridgewater Commons after a verbal argument, The New York Post reports. The teens can be seen in the video throwing punches as a crowd looks on, before two Bridgewater Police officers arrive and pull the teens apart.
One officer pushes the white teen onto a couch, while a male police officer pins the Black 14-year-old, identified by NBC News as Z’Kye Husain, onto the ground, placing what appears to be a knee on his back.
The female officer leaves the white teenager on the couch, joining her fellow officer with Husain instead, according to the video. She can be seen placing her knee on the teenager’s neck as the officers place him in handcuffs.
The white teenager remains unattended to—at one point even standing up and looking over the scene as Husain was placed in handcuffs.
“Yo, it’s ‘cause he’s Black. Racially motivated,” someone in the crowd can be heard saying.
Shortly after the video surfaced, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy spoke out on the incident.
“Although an investigation is still gathering the facts about this incident, I’m deeply disturbed by what appears to be racially disparate treatment in this video,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter. “We’re committed to increasing trust between law enforcement and the people they serve.”
The Bridgewater Police announced Monday that the department had requested that the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office conduct an investigation into the officer’s actions.
“The Bridgewater Twp Police Department is aware of a video on social media of our officers stopping a fight in progress at the Bridgewater Commons Mall,” police said in the statement. “We recognize that this video has made members of our community upset and are calling for an internal affairs investigation. The officers were able to respond quickly to this incident and stop it from escalating because of a tip we received from the community.”
Husain later told WNBC the fight broke out after he had confronted the white teenager, who was older, for picking on his friend.
“He was kind of saying, like, ‘You’re a little kid, you’re my little pet,’ and stuff like that,” he said.
As officers pinned him to the ground, he said he tried to follow the officer’s instructions.
“I was, like, calm, because I knew not to be scared,” he recalled. “Just stay calm and not move and do what they tell me to do.”
His mother, however, said she was furious about the incident.
“It doesn’t take two cops to hold a 14-year-old boy down who’s not resisting, while the other boy is just kind of going free and still going off on my son,” she said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Well-known civil rights attorney Ben Crump is now representing the family and released a statement Thursday condemning the officer’s actions.
“Z’Kye was defending a younger friend in the 7th grade who was being bullied by a much older 11th grader when this incident unfolded,” he said, describing Z’Kye’s actions as “noble.”
“We are so thankful that Z’Kye made it out of this incident with his life,” Crump continued. “It is no secret that dealing with police in America is more dangerous for Black men—and teenagers—than it is for white men. Z’Kye was no more a threat to those officers than the white teen that fought him. This is another example of the kind of racial bias that we need to root out of our system of policing. These officers need to be reprimanded and retrained to overcome the implicit bias that results in unequal—and often dangerous—treatment of Black people.”
Bridgewater Township Mayor Matthew Moench also weighed in on the controversy and thanked the public for not “jumping to conclusions” while the investigation into the incident remains ongoing.
“It is not appropriate for me or any other Township official to comment any further on the details of this incident while an investigation is ongoing, except to say that I am completely confident that the Prosecutor’s review will be impartial, objective and thorough,” he said, adding that the use of force by police is “codified” in the state of New Jersey by the Office of the Attorney General