An internal investigation has been launched into a viral YouTube video that shows an Elizabeth police officer punching a woman in the face as he tries to break up a melee outside of a nightclub last weekend, officials said today.
The officer will remain on active duty while police investigate a 20-second YouTube clip, said Kelly Vence, a city spokeswoman.
Vence declined the identify the officer, and said the woman who was struck has not spoken to authorities. A police spokesman refused to comment on the incident.
In the clip, which has gained more than 11,000 views since it was posted on March 3, the officer is seen attempting to break up a fracas outside of Envy Night Club on North Broad Street. After walking away from a crowd of roughly 10 to 12 people, the officer grabs hold of a man in a black vest and shoves him to the ground. Once the man falls, a woman wearing a red dress appears to grab the officer’s arm, and he responds by punching her.
[...]Wayne Fisher, a former deputy director of the state Division of Criminal Justice, said the woman appears to have initiated the physical contact, and encouraged residents to wait for the entire story to come out before criticizing the officer.
A spokesman for Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesea declined to comment on the video, but referred to the state’s guidelines on use of force by police, which says officers may use physical force to defend themselves if they feel they are facing a legitimate threat.
I can't tell if she grabbed his arm in an act of "interference," or if the cop was moving to arrest her, at which point she grabbed his arm merely to balance herself and brace herself for his onslaught. Regardless, she sure as hell didn't attack the cop, at most she laid her hand on him, hardly what I would call a "legitimate threat," yet the cop wound up and decked her like his life depended on it.
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