Viral NJ teen bike confrontation: Cops are cleared, parents applaud them
An investigation into an incident in April between police and teen bicyclists captured on video that went viral concluded that the officers acted correctly to prevent harm to the bicyclists and the community.
Not only that, but while online commenters were dragging the police and suggesting they were racially biased, the parents of some of the teens were thanking the officers for their efforts in setting their kids straight, the investigation revealed.
The initial short video clip of the incident showed a confrontation between police and the teens over the lack of a bicycle license and registration, a requirement in Perth Amboy. One of the teens is cuffed by police, which drew criticism of the officers for overreacting.
Once a longer video taken by one of the bicyclists wearing a GoPro camera was released, a more complete story emerged of the group riding around the city, sometimes recklessly.
At the time the video circulated online, Mayor Helmin J. Caba said the group rode through the city in an "unsafe and reckless manner," causing motorists to stop or swerve away from the group. Police stopped the group and an auxiliary police supervisor asked them to ride safely.
The Democratic mayor, who also serves as the director of police, requested a full review of the incident by Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone's office.
A full review by prosecutors
After a review that included video footage, community complaints, police reports and officer interviews, Ciccone concluded officers acted lawfully in stopping the teens because they were engaging in dangerous conduct that created a risk of injury to motorists, pedestrians, and the youths themselves.
"There is no indication or suggestion that the incident was racially motivated or that State law or local ordinances were selectively enforced in a discriminatory fashion. Moreover, there is no indication or suggestion the police used excessive force in addressing the situation," Ciccone, a former Superior Court judge, said.
"The officers’ actions were, at all times, within their lawful authority, comported with the enforcement of local ordinances, and in compliance with established police procedures."
Ciccone said the officers would have been derelict in their duties had they not taken any action.
The action of police was praised by the parent of the teen taken into custody who hoped her son would learn from the situation, according to Ciccone. The parent said she was happy the situation did not escalate.
What happened after the incident?
The City Council on July 14 voted to change the 80-year-old licensing ordinance to be optional. Other safety ordinances requiring safety equipment and prohibiting unsafe riding remain in place.
Ciccone in her report praised the city for holding a Family Bike Day by the Bay, which addressed bike safety and was well attended by police and teens.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ