Camden, NJ – A Camden County police officer has faced some backlash after police released bodycam footage in accordance with a public records request that showed him joking about a physical confrontation with a suspect (video below).
Officers spotted Edward Minguela, who matched the description provided by the 911 caller, and did a felony stop on him at gunpoint.
Police have released bodycam footage from several officers’ cameras that showed Minguela initially put his hands up when he was ordered to do so, but when Officer Nicholas Romantino tried to take him into custody and handcuff him, Minguela was having none of it.
In the video, Minguela pulled away from the officers, and resisted arrest.
Officer Romantino took him to the ground and tried to handcuff him, but the suspect would not comply with police commands or allow himself to be subdued, the video showed.
The officer delivered a dozen blows to the man who was reported to be armed with a gun, as the officer shouted "put your hands behind your back!" repeatedly.
Finally, Officer Romantino was able to get handcuffs on Minguela, at which point the suspect began protesting being struck, the video showed.
"Why you hitting me like that bro?" Minguela asked the officer several times.
After walking Minguela over to a cruiser, Romantino patted him down. The video showed Minguela complaining to the officers as he was searched and put into a patrol vehicle.
The recent controversy surrounded a couple minutes of bodycam video that was recorded after the incident, when the suspect had already been removed for booking by a transport vehicle.
The video showed Officer Romantino and a couple other officers laughing and joking about Minguela’s takedown.
In the video, Officer Romantino was showing his bruised knuckles to another officer.
"That guy. He's always giving us a hard time, that guy,” the other officer said.
“Not anymore,” Officer Romantino joked.
One of the officers asked him if the incident got his adrenaline going.
Shortly thereafter, the video showed Officer Romantino advising the other officers that Minguela had asked to go to the hospital en route to jail.
“He’s requesting to go to the hospital after I roughed his dome up a little bit,” he said.
“Okay, we’ll go meet Sanchez at the hospital then,” the other officer replied, totally nonplussed by the suspect’s request for medical treatment.
Minguela claimed that once he got to the hospital, officers tried to manipulate him.
He said he was told by police that if he declined medical care, he’d receive a summons for resisting arrest and obstruction.
However, Minguela claimed officers said that if he sought treatment, they would tack on the more serious charge of assault and battery on a police officer, NJ Advance Media reported.
No evidence has been released to back up Minguela's claims.
Minguela said he took the police’s offer and left the hospital, but he returned the next day for treatment of a concussion and a fractured wrist.
In late April, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office announced that that Officer Romantino’s use of force was justified, because the video clearly showed Minguela resisting arrest.
However, Officer Romantino remains on unpaid leave while the Camden County Police Department conducts its own internal affairs investigation, NJ Advance Media reported.
Minguela’s attorney, Devin Jacob, has argued that it’s a conflict of interest for the same prosecutor’s office that’s trying to prosecute his client for resisting arrest to be in charge of investigating the use-of-force allegations against police.
You can see the bodycam of the video below: