Too much restraint? Newark cops suspended for not stopping car stomper
NEWARK — Nobody was shot or seriously injured. But police officers who were applauded online for showing "restraint" are in trouble because top brass believe they should have done more to stop a man from jumping up and down on police cars.
A Facebook Live video posted by Habib Beyah showed the shirtless man's antics on Saturday while a crowd of people looked on. The man, identified by police as 18-year-old Altahriq Aulston, can be seen jumping from the roof of the cop car onto its hood. He then gets off and speaks to the officer, who remains in the vehicle. After a short while, Aulston jumps back onto the hood and repeatedly stomps on the hood while the officer remains inside.
When a backup vehicle arrives, Aulston jumps on that one, too.
One of the officers can be seen smiling.
The two officers who were suspended include the rookie who remained in the first vehicle and an officer with 10 years on the force.
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"We should not confuse restraint with a lack of response," Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said Tuesday in a statement. "If they did not help themselves, then how can we expect them to help the citizens that they serve."
The actions of the officers were hailed by people who commented on Beyah's video, with some noting that they did not escalate what could have been a volatile situation.
But Ambrose said by the officers taking no action, it could have "resulted in the suspect injuring himself, as well as other persons or property."
Undeterred by the additional police presence, the man can be seen jumping on their cars as additional officers got out of their cars. Onlookers can be heard encouraging the man to steal the car. As the man approaches officers, the onlookers can be heard encouraging him to "back up."
"All officers are trained to respond in various types of situations, including ones where they encounter unstable individuals," Ambrose said. "These officers instead took no action at all to quell the situation, and to aid and subdue the suspect as they are trained to do."
The video does not show how Aulston was eventually taken into custody, but he was charged with three counts of criminal mischief. Aulston is currently being held at the Essex County Jail.