New Jersey

NJ Police Officers Under Scrutiny After Violent Takedown of Teen Cyclist

Ridgewood's mayor confirmed an active investigation into the use of force by two officers who arrested a teenage boy over the weekend

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What to Know

  • An internal investigation is underway into the actions of New Jersey police officers when arresting a 15-year-old boy Sunday
  • Videos shows an officer grab the teenager from behind and force him to the pavement
  • The police chief issued a statement saying the teen had been trying to escape while an officer tried to issue him a summons for motor vehicle violations

An internal investigation into the actions of two New Jersey police officers is underway to determine whether their actions to takedown a teenage bicyclist were warranted.

Video shows a group of bicyclists watching as a 15-year-old Latino boy tussles over his bike with a Ridgewood officer Sunday afternoon. A second officer grabs the teenager from behind and forces him to the pavement.

The Ridgewood police chief issued a statement saying the teen on the ground had been trying to escape as the first officer tried to issue him a summons for motor vehicle violations.

Activists like Emily Rizzo, an organizer with Ridgewood for Black Liberation that wants to take money from the police and funnel it to social programs, have called for the officers' termination.

"There is nothing that justifies the amount of violence and force that was used on the minor that was riding his bike in the street yesterday," Rizzo said.

Ridgewood's chief said the teen was part of a group of bicyclists that has been blocking vehicular traffic on and off as they rode north through Hawthorne and Glen Rock. When they got to Ridgewood, they rode into a street packed with restaurant tents and tables. One local merchant says bicycles and scooters are allowed on the street along with the diners.

"The town has been closing the streets for the restaurant a couple of weeks now. People still ride their bikes. People still ride scooters, which are very popular now," said Carlos Inamagua.

When asked if she had any concerns about the video, Ridgewood Mayor Susan Knudsen said, "The concerns I have are that we are not seeing the whole video or prior to it and I think it is important to have it in context."

Karol Ruiz of the immigrant rights group Wind of the Spirit said she believes if predominantly white kids from Ridgewood had been the ones riding their bikes downtown, the outcome would have been different.

"There is a history of Black and Latino people not being allowed in certain neighborhoods," Ruiz said.

The teenager was issued four summonses before being released into the custody of his parents, police confirmed.

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