NJ Officers Placed On Leave After Punching Teen During Arrest

Three police officers have been placed on administrative leave after they were caught on video punching and pinning down a teenager during a violent arrest in Dover, New Jersey.

A video obtained by WABC shows one officer punch Cyprian Luke, 19, multiple times in the face while another officer holds his hand around the teenager’s throat while he was restrained. Luke, who is in police custody awaiting a hearing, told the news station he is in a lot of pain.

"I know that there was multiple blows, there was multiple macings, after that they was dragging me to the ambulance, because I couldn't walk," said Luke. During a press conference on May 20, Dover Mayor James P. Dodd confirmed the incident occurred on Sunday, May 19 at 2 a.m. According to a release sent to The North Star, the Dover Police Department approached Luke and his friend. Dodd said the officers had a warrant for Luke’s arrest on charges of aggravated assault and that Luke was resisting arrest, according to the news release.

Luke’s brother, Christopher, told WABC that the arresting officers did not tell him they had a warrant out for his brother's arrest. "They just tackled him to the ground. They pepper sprayed him. He wasn't resisting at all. He was trying to cover his face, because they kept punching him," Christopher said.

Dodd said he has no reason “to believe, at this time, that race played any role in the incident.” The violent arrest is being investigated by the New Jersey Attorney General and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office is conducting a full independent investigation.

“Given the independent investigation now ongoing, I urge everyone to show restraint until all the facts come out and the independent investigation is completed," Dodd said. “Rest assured... I will not stand for nor will I tolerate abuse of any kind from any officer toward a member of the public.” Luke’s mother, Mary Yurley, told WNBC that her son could have died during the violent arrest.

“My son could’ve died, he was blue in one video where he’s being choked and maced for no reason,” Yurley told the news station. "My son’s not resisting he was not being able to comply with what the officer was telling him to do." The 19-year-old has a black eye and multiple bruises. He was arraigned on May 20 and is due back in court on May 23, WNBC stated.

A similar incident occurred in Florida in April. A viral video showed officials from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department violently taking down a Black teenager during an arrest. The video showed Broward County Sheriff Deputy Christopher Krickovich and Sergeant Greg LaCerra pepper spray a Black teen, push him to the ground, and punch his head. Krickovich was placed on “restricted administrative assignment.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.