Paterson, NJ – The Passaic County Prosecutor has announced that no criminal charges will be filed against the Paterson officers who pepper sprayed a drunken, deaf man who was fighting the police (video below.)
Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes and Paterson Police Chief Troy Oswald released the investigation's findings in a joint statement on Monday, the South Passaic Daily Voice reported.
“The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office in consultation with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General has determined that the use of physical and mechanical force does not give rise to criminal charges against any of the involved officers based upon the New Jersey Attorney General’s Use of Force Policy and the New Jersey criminal code,” the statement read.
The incident occurred at approximately 6 p.m. on Sep. 28, after Paterson Police Department officers stopped a vehicle on Godwin Avenue and arrested a suspect for drug offenses, the South Passaic Daily Voice reported.
As the officers were waiting for a tow truck to move the suspect’s vehicle, a rowdy crowd began to gather in the area around them, the joint statement read.
Raasean Adams, who was “holding a cup of what is believed to be alcohol,” approached the officers and “attempted to take the keys to the vehicle involved in the narcotics arrest from an officer’s hand,” according to Valdes and Chief Oswald.
The officers noted that Adams “appeared… to be intoxicated,” and said that they “advised Mr. Adams several times to leave the scene but he refused,” the release said.
Other people at the scene told the officers that Adams was “hearing impaired,” and they “pleaded” with him to comply with police, according to the joint statement.
Despite having multiple opportunities to walk away, Adams inexplicably tossed his lit cigarette at one of the officers.
The officers then attempted to place him under arrest, at which point Adams began “flailing his arms attempting to avoid being handcuffed,” according to the release.
They wrestled Adams to the ground, where the altercation continued.
"Adams continually refused, at which point an officer struck [him] with his elbow to gain compliance,” the joint statement said. “The officer reported that after several failed attempts to handcuff Adams, the officer utilized OC spray to [his] face.”
An angry bystander then hurled a beer bottle, nearly striking one of the officers in the head.
Another person in the crowd was also pepper sprayed after he refused to back away from the officers, cell phone footage showed.
Adams was ultimately handcuffed in front, but refused to get into the patrol vehicle and “threw himself on the ground,” the statement said, according to the South Passaic Daily Voice.
He was eventually transported to a local hospital for evaluation, and was then released to police.
Adams was charged with resisting arrest and aggravated assault on a peace officer, but later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of obstruction.
He was also charged with assault and use of a deadly weapon in nearby Essex County.
Chief Oswald and Valdes said in their joint statement that the department plans to “review current de-escalation training to determine if additional or modified training should be undertaken,” the South Passaic Daily Voice reported.
The officers involved in the arrest could still face administrative sanctions pending the outcome of the internal investigation.
You can watch footage of the officers’ altercation with Adams in the video below: