Protests Erupt After NJ Police Officer Found Not Guilty of Beating Black Teen
|thenorthstar||Jun 2, 2019|
More than 50 demonstrators took to the streets of Carteret, New Jersey on May 26 to protest a recent court decision that found a white police officer not guilty of brutally beating a teenage boy during a 2017 arrest.
Officer Joseph Reiman was acquitted of assault, misconduct charges, and falsifying reports stemming from the beating of then 16-year-old Monte Stewart during the teen’s arrest, according to NJ.com. The arrest happened after Monte crashed his father’s car, which he took without permission, following a brief police chase.
A short clip from Reiman’s patrol vehicle shows Monte stepping out of his car and moving to the ground while the officer yells at him. Reiman then jumped on the boy and began to pummel him while yelling, “You’re under arrest! You’re under arrest!” Prosecutors claimed Reiman assaulted Monte after the teen surrendered, failed to turn on his body camera, and failed to use “reasonable discretion or restraint,” NJ 101.5 FM reported. A judge dismissed the official misconduct charge for failing to activate his body camera during the trial.
Photos of the teen’s battered face were posted to Facebook by his family and shared more than 3,000 times. “I [have] never been so heart broken in my life looking at my son face… this is how Carteret Police are treating [our] kids,” Monte’s family wrote. Russell Stewart, Monte’s father, became emotional on May 24 when the jury found Reinman was not guilty of assaulting his son. “He beat my son! Y’all got kids right? It’s always the white police gotta get away. We gonna die out here! He beat my son!” he shouted as he was led out of the courtroom.
Reiman’s older brother, Carteret Mayor Daniel Reiman, celebrated the acquittal and called the case against Reiman a “persecution of a police officer doing his job” by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. "I have consistently stated that all individuals are entitled to their day in court,” Mayor Reiman said in a statement posted to his Facebook page. “While many in the media and others with agendas rushed to judgment based on limited and often completely inaccurate information, I am happy that his jury reached the correct verdict based upon a full review of all the evidence.”
In his Facebook post, the mayor accused prosecutors of obscuring the fact that the teen’s face had hit the windshield and that he was already on probation for strong arm robbery. He also claimed Monte reached for the officer’s belt during the altercation. “I have great pride in my brother, who has faced these accusations with tremendous strength and gratitude to all of the individuals who have shown support to my entire family during this period,” the mayor continued. “The Carteret Police Department is among the most professional in the state of NJ and today’s verdict lifts aloud that has hung over the Department as the result of the corrupt actions of County Prosecutor Andrew Carey.”
In an interview with Courier News, the mayor said that the county prosecutor “put every officer in my town in jeopardy.” He said that he was filing a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office because he wants an investigation. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment to The North Star about the verdict.
On May 26, between 50 and 100 people marched on the streets to protest the not guilty decision against Reiman. According to NJ.com, protesters met at Chrome Park and marched up Roosevelt Avenue to the Carteret Police Department before returning to the park. “The residents are tired and fed up,” protester Fred Gattuso told NJ.com. “We need justice for Monte and all the victims of Joe Remain, and this needs to be the last.”
Gattuso, a former Carteret mayoral candidate, said more marches were being planned, including events at council meetings. Stewart has also filed a civil lawsuit against Officer Reiman and the city of Carteret. Reiman is among the officers in his police department who have used force most often. There are four lawsuits, including Stewart’s, against Reiman for alleged excessive use of force.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.