Just weeks after 6 officers from the Paterson Police Department were sentenced for targeting and abusing minorities in Paterson from 2016 to 2018, the Department is in the news again – this time for their conduct during the arrest of 19-year old Haneif Booker at a back-to-school block party.
Booker, of Paterson, was arrested on Saturday, August 28, 2022 at approximately 8:30pm inside a garage on Sparrow Street. He was later charged with Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer and Resisting Arrest.
Booker’s cousin said that the 2 were leaving a store near the block party when they saw Booker’s older brother being questioned by officers during a traffic stop on Sparrow Street. They went to see what was happening and as tensions appear to escalate between officers and the brother, Booker allegedly became upset and starting asking, “What did he do?” She said she took Booker into a nearby garage to calm him down and as she did so, someone threw a bottle into the crowd. She claimed that the next thing she new, Haneif’s brother was being arrested and guns were being drawn on her and Haneif. She further claimed that he was handcuffed and thrown to the ground, where officers stomped on his back.
A bystander captured part of the incident on video, which can be viewed here. It shows officers bashing Haneif’s head into the garage door while he is handcuffed and spraying the crowd (including the individual that was recording the incident) with pepper spray. The version set forth in the arrest affidavit appears to be in stark contrast to what is depicted in the video.
Witnesses, community activists, and the organizer of the block party are all speaking out, claiming that this is yet another example of why many of the Paterson citizens distrust the Police Department. In particular, the event organizer was quoted as saying, “There was no need for it to get as wild as it did…. All I could see was the officers slamming Haneif’s head into the garage, and I heard him tell them he couldn’t breathe.” He asked to remain anonymous, citing fear of police retribution / retaliation. Many are calling for the Department of Justice to get involved.
For more information about the incident and the public reaction, the NJ.com article can be found here.
If you or someone you know has been charged with Aggravated Assault, Resisting Arrest, or a related crime, you need zealous representation to ensure that your rights are protected – especially if there was misconduct on the part of law enforcement during the underlying issue. Contact Alissa Hascup, Esq. 24/7 at 862-257-1200. Initial consultations are always provided free of charge.