Racial discrimination in Bridgewater? An investigation has been initiated.

The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the conduct of two officers from the Bridgewater Police Department who appear to have engaged in racially discriminatory treatment in their handling of a fight at the Bridgewater Commons Mall. Their conduct has social media viewers outraged and the NAACP calling for their suspension.

The fight was captured on video and has gone viral. The video shows two teenage boys, the younger (and smaller) of which is black, engaged in a verbal altercation that turns physical. They are seen pointing at one another, pushing, and then punching. When officers arrive, the black boy is on his back with the other teen punching him. Notwithstanding, officers pull the boys apart, and let the older boy sit on a nearby couch while they force the black boy to the ground, put their knees in his back and on his neck, and cuff him. The older boy is never cuffed.

Governor Murphy called the incident “disturbing.” “We have to let the investigation play out. The appearance of what is racially disparate treatment is deeply, deeply disturbing. And another reminder of the progress we made on the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve, led by great leaders…that our work isn’t done and we need to continue that.”

Richard Smith, President of the NJ Conference of the NAACP said that the video was reminiscent of the deadly incidents involved Garner and Floyd. “We were disappointed as the NAACP to see another police action irrefutably showing disparate treatment of an African American in regard to dealings with the police.” He went on to say, “This has to stop…the immediate reaction was to aggressively grab the Black child and throw him on the ground.”

Both teens were banned from the mall for fighting and the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office has indicating that they will conduct a thorough investigation.

If you or someone you know has been subjected to racially biased policing, you need the services of a skilled juvenile rights attorney to assist you through the process. Contact Alissa D. Hascup, Esq. 24/7 for a consultation, which is always provided free of charge.