TR man accused of punching man on Seaside Heights boardwalk has charges dropped
The Toms River resident who was arrested and charged for allegedly punching a man on the Seaside Heights boardwalk during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in August has had the charges against him dismissed by the Ocean County Prosecutors Office.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer announced the decision Friday after his team of investigators concluded their review of the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegation of simple assault against 28-year old Jamaal Holmes.
While marching on the Boardwalk along with nearly 25 additional Black Lives Matter Supporters, Seaside Heights Police said on August 15 that Holmes struck a 68-year-old man in the facial area during a verbal altercation between the two located at Sherman and the Boardwalk.
The victim fell to the boardwalk after being struck and sustained a small laceration to the back of the head.
Holmes was then charged and released from the Seaside Heights Police Department.
A Toms River woman who was on the boardwalk during the movement that day told 92.7 WOBM News that she was there with about 20 other individuals and stated that the 68-year old man was "heckling us like many others did what what he did, unlike others, was get physical."
She said the 68-year old man was "in my face screaming profanities and had spit on me. When he didn't get a reaction from myself and the few around me is when he moved onward to Jamaal."
In a 30-second video she shared with 92.7 WOBM News that does not depict what happened prior to the incident, Jamaal is chanting Black Lives Matter and is approached by a man who says "Hey, j-----f, take the mask off you scumbag. Take the mask off!"
An altercation then ensues that is not visibly clear on camera only that Jamaal's phone fell to the ground.
Jamaal then picks it up and says "that's what happens when you lay hands on people buddy."
The witness who provided the video said that he swung at Jamal and hit him twice and Jamaal then pushed him away.
Detectives from the Special Investigation Unit of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office launched an extensive investigation into the incident.
Prosecutor Billhimer said that several additional independent witnesses came forward or their names were provided by others as being present on the boardwalk that day.
OCPO SIU Detectives attempted to contact fourteen individuals and interviewed ten witnesses that were willing to cooperate.
They also reviewed all available surveillance footage from the boardwalk and video footage that Jamaal Holmes posted to his Facebook page.
Upon completion of this investigation, Prosecutor Billhimer reviewed all relevant evidence and ultimately determined that the Seaside Heights Police Department had probable cause to detain and arrest Jamaal Holmes for the Simple Assault of Robert Lay based upon the initial witness interviews conducted on August 15, 2020.
Prosecutor Billhimer also concluded that none of the arresting officers acted criminally.
He then came to the conclusion that sufficient credible evidence exists to create a reasonable doubt as to the State’s ability to prove the charge of Simple Assault beyond a reasonable doubt.
As such, the Simple Assault charge against Jamaal Holmes was administratively dismissed, in the interest of justice, on Friday.
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