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Random Notes on NJ Government

Videos show Bridgeton police officer pepper spraying handcuffed man, fellow officer.

In response to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, the City of Bridgeton (Cumberland County) recently disclosed four body worn camera videos that capture an interaction between three City police officers and two men in a vehicle that had run out fuel during the early morning hours of June 18, 2017.  Shortly before pepper spraying one man in the face, one of the officers is recorded as saying “Do you want to feel pain, sir?” After spraying him for the second time, the officer screamed “There, how do you like it now? Now, get in the goddamned car!” and “Pull your legs in. Now! I’m going to give it to you again!”

The event occurred at about 5 a.m. at the Riggins service station on West Broad Street, Bridgeton which is across the street from the Cumberland County Courthouse.  Two men were in a 1996 Buick that had run out of fuel.  The men, who appeared to be intoxicated, told officers that they were waiting for the Riggins station to open so that they could purchase fuel.  During an investigation, police discovered an empty whiskey bottle on the floor of the Buick.

The police officers who responded were Ronald F. Broomall, John R. Grier and Donald J. Young.  Grier was the officer who deployed the pepper spray.  When he first deployed the spray, Grier sprayed Broomall as well as the man who was the spray’s intended target.

According to the arrest report, the man who was pepper sprayed was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest. The complaint-summons for the resisting charge claimed that the man was “resisting arrest by refusing to enter into the patrol vehicle after being arrested for DWI.”  Grier’s Affidavit of Probable Cause claimed that the man “was advised to be seated inside the patrol vehicle numerous times, at which time he refused.”  Grier also filed a Use of Force Report regarding the incident.

For those who wish to view short clips of just the pepper spraying incident, below are links to two videos of the event taken by Grier’s and Broomall’s body worn cameras.

Incident from Grier’s perspective 
Incident from Broomall’s perspective 

For those who want additional context, I have placed links below to four longer videos, two of which were the source of the short videos linked above.  The longer videos show the interaction between the officers and the men before and after the pepper spraying incident including the insults, rants and profanities that were spoken by the man who was ultimately pepper sprayed and arrested.  The last video, taken from Broomall’s body worn camera, shows Broomall aiding the arrestee by pouring water on his head to help wash away the spray residue.

Video 1: Taken from Officer Young’s body worn camera.  Young is the officer who gave the two men summonses for having an open container of alcohol.

Video 2: Taken from Officer Grier’s body worn camera.  The video ends with Grier departing from the scene after his initial encounter with the men.

Video 3: Taken from Officer Grier’s body worn camera.  The video depicts Grier’s interaction with the man after he returns to the scene.

Video 4: Taken from Officer Broomall’s body worn camera. 

By John Paff

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project