N.J. Man Claims He Was Arrested for Recording Officers’ Use of Excessive Force Against Suspect

A New Jersey man found himself in handcuffs Monday after using his cellphone to capture the moment Paterson police detectives used what he called excessive force to apprehend a suspected drug dealer.

Authorities paint a different picture of the incident, however.

Paterson Police

Paterson Police said officers were attempting to arrest a drug suspect when Jhabed Malique allegedly tried to intervene. (Image courtesy of CBS New York)

Jhabed Malique, 28, was arrested and charged with obstruction, not because he was filming the suspect’s arrest, but because he allegedly got in the officers’ way while trying to record the incident, police officials told the Paterson Press. 

“We always get filmed by the public, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Police Chief Troy Oswald said, noting that other people who shot video of the incident were not arrested. “[Malique] was arrested because he tried to climb into the police car, [and] he blocked the officers from doing their job.”

Malique denied this, however, calling the authorities’ version of events “ridiculous.” The Paterson native said he remained at least 30 feet away from officers as he recorded the arrest. He claimed the officers told him he was being arrested for being “nosy” and not “minding my own business.”

In an interview the Paterson Press, Malique said he felt officers targeted him because he had filmed the arrest in its entirety, including scenes he says depict officers being overly aggressive toward the suspect. Witnessing what he originally thought was a “road rage” dispute, he said he pulled out his phone after several men jumped out of a vehicle and converged on another car they had cut off in traffic.

At the time, Malique said he didn’t realize the men who jumped in the car to grab the driver were police officers.

Oswald said the man arrested was part of a major drug operation that was busted that same day. Authorities said the man refused to comply with officer demands and, at one point, put his hands behind his back as if he were reaching for something. Unsure if he was armed, Oswald said one of the officers struck the suspect to get him to submit to being handcuffed.

Activist Corey Teague told the newspaper one of the videos shows a plainclothes cop punch at the suspect during a struggle inside the vehicle, calling the assault clear evidence of excessive force. Other witnesses captured bits and pieces of the arrest, at least two of which have been circulated among activists on social media.

While filming, Malique said he called out to the driver and urged him to cooperate with police. Minutes later, he was also in handcuffs

Malique said officers seized his phone at the time of his arrest and deleted video of the incident before returning it to him when he was released from custody some five hours later.

Watch more in the clips below.

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