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Another Police Beating Caught on Tape

New York Amsterdam News, News Report, Cyril Josh Barker Posted: Jun 15, 2009

A police beating of a mentally disabled Black man in Passaic, N.J., caught on tape has Black residents in that area angry and looking for answers. On May 29, Ronnie Holloway, 49, was assaulted by Passaic Police Officer Joseph Rios III.

In the nearly three-minute recording, the video shows Holloway,who suffers from schizophrenia, according to his mother, at an intersection when a patrol car pulls up in front of him and two police officers exit the vehicle.

Rios, who has served seven years on the force, is seen going over to Holloway and slamming him into the police car before throwing him to the ground and beating Holloway with a baton. Holloway gets up and is again slammed into the left car door of the patrol car by Rios. Holloway suffered bruises and eye injuries.

The other officer on the scene watches the incident before going into the patrol car to call for backup and two other police cars then arrive on the scene, detaining Holloway. He is then taken away in handcuffs. The video has no audio, so no verbal exchanges are heard. Reports indicate that Holloway was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and wandering with the intent to buy narcotics. The officer, Rios, remained on active duty but was put on desk duty earlier in the week.

The video blatantly conflicts with Officer Rios account of what happened.

Rios claims that Holloway looked like he was going to fight him and also verbally challenged him. In the video, Holloway is seen wearing what appears to be a jacket but no shirt underneath and his bare chest exposed. In Rios report, the other officer seen in the video told Holloway to zip up his jacket and move from the corner. He seemed to be complying.

The Passaic Police Departments Internal Affairs Division was investigating the incident, but on Monday, Passaic Mayor Alex D. Blanco announced the takeover of the investigation by the Passaic County Prosecutors Office.

In a statement, Blanco said he wanted to alleviate any fears or negative perceptions with regards to this issue of police policing themselves. Blanco, who is himself of Dominican descent, also said he wanted to assure the public that he will confront issues of excessive force by police.

Meanwhile, Passaics Black community is saying enough is enough.

The police beating of Holloway sparked a protest on Saturday at Passaic City Hall, which brought out more than 200 people. Local Black activist Kasmin Washington led the protest. In an interview with the AmNews, Washington summed up the climate among Blacks in Passaic.

Outrage, he said. Im worse than mad. Rios should get suspended without pay because if they paid him, that would be like giving him a vacation for beating up somebody. We are not satisfied.

According to Washington, the May 29 incident was not Officer Rios first time using excessive force. Washington claims that two years ago, Rios attacked a 28-year-old Black woman in front of her grandmothers house for no reason.

The people here want Rios to be fired and charged. If we were to put our hands on a police officer, wed get five to 10 years. Whenever a police officer does something wrong, they just get put in a different county or a different state. said Washington. On Tuesday, Washington, along with other Black community leaders in Passaic, met with Mayor Blanco to discuss the investigation of Holloways beating. The owners of Lawrences Restaurant, whose surveillance camera caught the incident, were also in attendance. Blanco also met with local officials from the NAACP.

According to Washington, Passaics problems with police involving negative confrontations with people of color are similar to those of New York Citys

He said, The majority of people targeted by police are Black, Hispanic and Arab. Serving as the spokesman for the victims family, Washington said that Holloways mother, Betty, is in shock over the treatment that her son endured. Holloway himself is unable to understand why the police attacked him.

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