Three years after a mentally disabled man was pulled over by state troopers and punched repeatedly in the head, New Jersey State Police now concede the troopers used unreasonable force.
After an investigation by the attorney general's office, state police and the Warren County Prosecutor's Office, "administrative charges of unreasonable use of force were substantiated against two troopers by the Office of Professional Standards on March 23," Lt. Stephen Jones said in a statement.
The incident unfolded from a 2009 traffic stop in Warren County, and was captured on police car dashboard video, released recently to The Star-Ledger newspaper.
In the video, troopers can be seen talking to then-21-year-old James Bayliss before he is thrown to the ground and hit. Moments later, Bayliss is carried toward a police cruiser when his head strikes a wheel.
Bayliss and his family have retained Morristown attorney Bob Woodruff, who criticizes the actions of the troopers and the fact that it took three years for results of an internal affairs report to be released.
"You look at it and draw your own conclusion," he said of the video. "I think the conclusion is clear."
Woodruff said Bayliss suffers from a mental disability following a 2005 accident. A friend who was driving the car during the arrest told officers Bayliss had trouble understanding orders and following instructions.
The troopers involved said in their report that Bayliss attempted to strike them and then resisted arrest.
"What are these police officers trying to tell the public?" said Woodruff. "That this is how we operate? I would like to think most officers don't operate that way. But in this instance, it's clear from the video that some did."
Jones said "an assessment is currently under way to determine what disciplinary actions will be taken against these troopers."
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