Montclair State University police criticized for actions during arrest
By ERIN ROLL
The Montclair State University campus police are being scrutinized for their actions during an arrest on campus late Wednesday afternoon. The officers drew their weapons, according to witnesses at the scene.
According to a statement from the university, a campus police officer was leaving the substation at the end of his shift at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 5 when he witnessed a fight between two people in a campus parking lot near the intersection of Clove Road and Village Road in Little Falls.
The area where the arrest took place is near the Village at Little Falls, a complex of residential and student life buildings at the northern end of campus, and a NJ Transit train station, parking lot and parking deck. The Village also includes a police substation.
The officer contacted police headquarters to report a fight in progress and ask for backup, university officials said.
“All of the officers holstered their weapons to make the arrests, with the exception of one officer who continued to monitor the movements of the partly obscured person in the backseat of the vehicle. There was no discharge of any weapons nor was any individual injured during the incident, except for one of the involved officers who sustained minor injuries,” according to the release.
University officials said one of the involved parties resisted arrest.
A video purporting to show the arrest was posted to Instagram on Wednesday. The video begins as two people are standing outside a car, with one man having his hands up. The other man has his hands behind his back, and two officers are standing with their weapons drawn.
The video shows officers pushing one of the two men, the man who had been standing with his hands behind his back, to the ground. Two other occupants of the vehicle are also seen being ordered or pulled out of the car and being made to lie down on the ground.
Several social media users criticized the police for what was perceived as excessive use of force.
“Hands were up, no one was resisting, weapons were not present but UPD used excessive force and pulled up on these students with weapons drawn,” said the poster kiy.gram.
One of the two individuals was charged with simple assault, while the other was charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Both were processed and issued summonses to appear in court before being released on their own recognizance at 7 p.m. Two other individuals at the scene were released without being charged.
The university submitted a use of force report to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office.
The prosecutor’s office could not be reached for comment on the matter Thursday morning.