Dover, NJ – Three Dover police officers are under investigation after a video was posted to social media that showed them struggling with a fugitive they were trying to arrest early on Sunday morning (video below).
The incident occurred at about 2:15 a.m. on May 19 when police spotted 19-year-old Cyprian Luke and his friends coming out of convenience store on North Warren Street, the Morristown Daily Record reported.
Luke was wanted for aggravated assault, violating court orders, and criminal mischief, and so police confronted him outside the Mill Pond Towers Apartments.
When police asked for identification, Luke lied and said his name was “Anthony,” according to the Morristown Daily Record.
When police moved to take Luke into custody, he began violently resisting.
Marcus Robinson, who was with Luke, pulled out his cell phone to film the altercation.
“First thing I see is they sprayed him with mace," Robinson said. "They were all over him, he couldn't move his arms, but then they were saying 'stop resisting' at the same time. And then they started punching him. I thought bro was going to die."
He told the Morristown Daily Record that he and his friends were in town to get tattoos and claimed that all three of them were sober at the time of the incident.
Robinson posted the video of Luke’s arrest to social media shortly after it happened and it quickly went viral.
The video showed three officers on the ground with Luke, trying to take him into custody as he struggled against them on his back.
In the video, the officers repeatedly demanded that Luke roll over onto his stomach, but at the same time it looked as if one officer was holding him down with his knee while another officer hand his hand on his chest and then later, at his throat.
The video showed Luke tried to cover his face with his free hand and an officer delivered two closed-hand strikes to his head.
The officers repeatedly yelled at Luke to “roll over” and “quit resisting” as he struggled against them.
Another officer arrived to back up the first three, and together they were able to roll Luke over, the video showed.
After the officers got Luke turned over, he continued to actively resist, clenching up his arms as they finally got handcuffs on him.
Then Luke proceeded to passively resist as all four officers dragged him to the waiting patrol vehicle and witnesses screamed obscenities at them, the video showed.
Bystanders continued to heckle the officers who did not react, the video showed.
A moment later, an ambulance arrived and the officer dragged Luke across the street to where it was waiting.
Officers booked Luke into the Morris County Correctional Facility on the charges he was wanted for when they stopped him, according to the Morristown Daily Record.
He appeared in court on Monday afternoon and pleaded not guilty, New Jersey Advance Media reported.
Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor scheduled a hearing for Thursday to determine whether to keep Luke in custody pending trial, as prosecutors have requested.
Dover Public Safety Director Daniel DeGroot and Mayor James Dodd met with reporters outside the Dover Police Department shortly before Luke’s court appearance.
Director DeGroot said that one sergeant and two patrol officers featured in the video had been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident was investigated, New Jersey Advance Media reported.
One of the officers was injured during the incident but Director DeGroot said he didn’t know the nature of the injury or how serious it might be.
He also did not name the officers being investigated, although all nametags were clearly visible in the video, New Jersey Advance Media reported.
The mayor said the investigation was being handled by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
“Mr. Luke resisted police efforts to take him into custody," Dodd said. “There is no reason for me to believe at this time that race played any role. I understand that we live in an age of social media where there is a tendency to rush to judgment. If the officers behaved inappropriately, swift action will be taken.”
After the video went viral on Sunday evening, a small group of protesters took to the streets to express their displeasure with the Dover Police Department.
Other protests were being planned for later in the week, according to the Morristown Daily Record.
Watch video of the incident below. WARNING - Graphic Content: