Paterson, NJ – The Mayor of Paterson, NJ recently released police body camera video of a Paterson police officer striking a man in the face and then kneeing him in his face while he was handcuffed and sitting on the floor.
The video, which comes from another officer’s body camera, begins with an unidentified man talking on his cell phone and clearly upset about his children being taken from him. According to officials, the man was involved in a domestic dispute with his child’s mother when the incident occurred.
In the video, the man can be seen in a hallway, on his cell phone pacing back and forth while loudly arguing with someone off camera. Although he is clearly agitated, he keeps his distance from police officers and is not threatening them in anyway.
At approximately two minutes into the video Officer Spencer Finch approaches the man and strikes him in the face without warning. A struggle between the man and the officers ensues and ends with the man cuffed and on the ground.
While the man is on the ground in a seated position with his hands cuffed behind him, officer Finch knees him in the face.
As a result of the assault, officer Finch was arrested a few weeks later and charged with official misconduct, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and tampering with public records or information.
According to the prosecutor, after the attack, Finch submitted a police report that contained several false statements.
In the report Finch wrote that he told the man he was under arrest for making terroristic threats and ordered him to put his hands behind his back, but the suspect took an aggressive stance and clenched his fist.
He also said he kneed the man after the man tried to headbutt him, according to authorities.
Officer Finch never activated his body-camera during the encounter, however, body camera video from another Paterson police officer at the scene captured a different scenario than what Finch described in his report.
Finch spent five nights in Bergen County Jail following his arrest before a judge approved his release pending trial on June 16.
He was suspended without pay, however Paterson’s contracts with its police unions require the city to resume paying cops accused of crimes after 30 days and to place them on restricted duty or administrative leave.
Kenneth Clayton, president of the Paterson NAACP, is calling for officer Finch’s termination.
“I think it’s appropriate to call for his termination,” Clayton said. “The body camera footage clearly shows he was acting inappropriately. We have to have zero tolerance for behavior like this in our police force.”