New Jersey Man Beaten By Cops For "Wandering" While Black

From WPIX:

PASSAIC, N.J. (WPIX) – A police officer in New Jersey, captured on surveillance tape viciously beating a mentally ill man, has been reassigned while an investigation into the incident is underway.

Passaic cop Joseph J. Rios III, a seven-year veteran of the force, has not been charged in the May 29 attack but instead has been assigned to desk duty. [...]

Holloway, who has filed an Internal Affairs report, claims he was taking his routine walk when he was suddenly approached by Rios and another officer in a police cruiser. Holloway said he was zipping up his sweatshirt, as requested by the female officer, when Rios launched the attack. Holloway said Rios jumped out of his cruiser and threw him against a car hood for no reason.

Holloway, who reportedly suffers from schizophrenia, was arrested after the incident and charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and wandering with the intent to purchase drugs.

This video from WPIX includes footage of protesters, including an interview with a protester who claims that she was also beaten by Officer Rios a year ago.



Although the assaulted man — like nearly all of the protesters — was Black, none of the news reports I’ve seen have pointed out that these assaults have a racist and sexist aspect. But although all kinds of people are assaulted by cops, the victims in these stories seem to be disproportionately brown-skinned men (both African-American and Latino).

Here’s the footage from the security camera. It really looks like the only thing that stopped the beating from going on much longer was the arrival of more cops.



It’s extraordinary that a surveillance camera happened to be aimed at just the right spot. Without that, everyone would dismiss Holloway as a liar (after all, he’s both black and mentally disabled, plus he now has an arrest record — so that’s three strikes), and this story would never have made the news. How many of the people of color who are arrested for things like “resisting arrest” are innocent victims of police assault, who just didn’t have the luck to have a video camera capture the incident?

I also wondered, was he targeted because he is disabled? From the footage, it doesn’t seem so; there’s nothing to indicate that the cop who beat him knew he was disabled. But maybe he was targeted for his disability, and I’m just not knowledgeable enough to spot it. I certainly can’t dismiss the possibility.

(Via Radley Balko).

This entry posted in Disabled Rights & Issues, Prisons and Justice and Police, Race, racism and related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

14 Responses to New Jersey Man Beaten By Cops For "Wandering" While Black

  1. 1
    Emily says:

    People who are beaten by the police are ALWAYS charged with resisting arrest in order to justify the beating.

    These are the types of incidents that make me glad that in the state that I live in (Virginia) people have a right to resist an illegal arrest by force.

    I’d be interested to see a little more of the video at the beginning – there’s certainly no disorderly conduct shown on this tape.

    Finally, I wonder if the officer wrote a report before finding out there was video. If so I would LOVE to see what that report said :) Police officers should absolutely be fired and prosecuted, not just for beating people but also for lying in their reports. For every one that can actually be proven there are so many that have gone undiscovered.

  2. 2
    Jake Squid says:

    I’m amazed that Mr. Holloway never once made a gesture that could be seen as threatening. Most of us would reflexively try to block the blows, which the police then call an aggressive action leading to more blows. Even without that it appears that Rios just keeps bullying and hitting Mr. Holloway. I can only speculate that Rios was trying to provoke a reaction from Mr. Holloway so that he could escalate the violence.

    How is it that Rios isn’t suspended pending the outcome? This isn’t an accident, it’s intentional brutality.

  3. 3
    Chris says:

    “wandering with the intent to purchase drugs.”

    Regardless of whether or not he was doing this–you can be ARRESTED for INTENT to purchase drugs? How in the hell is this legal?

  4. 4
    lilacsigil says:

    Wandering with intent to buy drugs? What? How can people be charged with that?

    If Mr Holloway is taking medication for his schizophrenia, he may well be identifiable as disabled – many of the common medications have visible side-effects such as facial tics, excess saliva production or sweating.

  5. 5
    Krupskaya says:

    I’m no expert, but I find the other cop’s body language fascinating. She seems much more an observer than a participant.

  6. 6
    Emily says:

    Jake Squid – it is amazing Mr. Holloway didn’t make any motions that could be interpreted as aggressive. That’s sort of links to why I said I’m glad that VA has the right to resist an unlawful arrest by force, because then it is much harder for the police to get away with using that kind of stuff against you. If they had no reason to arrest and tackle you, you’re allowed to resist, and you’re allowed to resist with reasonable force.

  7. 7
    sanabituranima says:

    How is it that Rios isn’t suspended pending the outcome? This isn’t an accident, it’s intentional brutality.

    Because brutality is only real brutality if it’s done to real people. And the only real people are mentally healthy and white. [/sarcasm]

    People have fetched security on me for having panic attacks in public. Other people I know have been arrested for it. Which of course is really, really, helpful.

    Now I’m wondering if that’s what happens to me, a white person who is obviously middle-class from her accent, what happens to someone who working class and/or PoC in the same situation? Scary.

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  9. 8
    zooey says:

    This is insane. Cops get away with abusing African Americans and Latinos every day. This need to be brought to the attention of the higher authorities. New Jersey is the most corrupt and racist state. I’m not shocked at all. These cops do not abide by the Constitution. Depriving people of there life, liberty, and property. A right not to be subject to seizure without a valid warrant or probable cause. I see injustice done everyday in New Jersey By cops especially in Scotch Plains, Watchung, South Plainfield, all the surburban cops in New Jersey are racists as soon as an African American or Latino question authority we are beaten and arrested. This is assault, battery, aggravated kidnapping, and extortion.

  10. 9
    FurryCatHerder says:

    At least the cop did better this time — instead of “Breaking into his own house (with intend to steal his own stuff, no doubt)” they got this guy for “Wandering … with the intent to purchase drugs”

    The trifecta of Police Abuse of Power will next involve “Driving (while black)”. Can’t wait to see what bogus charge is added to the end of “Driving (while black)”

  11. 10
    Radfem says:

    Jake Squid – it is amazing Mr. Holloway didn’t make any motions that could be interpreted as aggressive. That’s sort of links to why I said I’m glad that VA has the right to resist an unlawful arrest by force, because then it is much harder for the police to get away with using that kind of stuff against you. If they had no reason to arrest and tackle you, you’re allowed to resist, and you’re allowed to resist with reasonable force.

    California has a similar law that can be included in jury instructions at a trial for example but so few people know about it and it’s still extremely difficult to get acquitted with that defense. But I’ve seen it done…once.

    I’m no expert, but I find the other cop’s body language fascinating. She seems much more an observer than a participant.

    In a group of them, it’s not uncommon to have one or more acting this way. I’ve seen it in cases outside of excessive force too. Discourtesy for example or violations of policies.

    But did she report it? Probably not if there were opportunities to do so before the video surfaced publicly.

    Not sure what role gender plays, except that female officers are indicted less and are sued less for excessive force than male officers. Less money’s paid out on claims and suits involving female officers even considering the relatively low percentage of them. Most studies of both individual departments and groups of them (usually larger ones) put female officers at being outnumbered 7 to 1 in numbers but up to 30 to 1 or higher of being outnumbered on money and claims settled or won at trial in cases of excessive force, DV and sexual assault.

    Video taped cases make me cringe in some way. Yes, it’s great to have video of an incident but often too much of the criminal case against an officer who’s charged is focusing on that and while a videotape can charge or indict an officer, it won’t convict them. And there’s ample evidence of that, King, Donovan Jackson and the U.S. airman assaulted by a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputy come to mind. So many other factors play into the trial, not the least being jury pool composition and that selection process. Plus, whether or not the officers’ attorneys can win on a change of venue motion. That alone has pretty much set several including the King officers up for acquittals.

    And no matter how many video tapes that surface to “validate” the existence of police abuse and misconduct, not much has changed in this country as a whole about views towards it. People tend to either know it happens systemicly already or they write these incidents off as “bad apples” running amok.

  12. 11
    brenda says:

    Does anyone have evidence of recent cases involving Driving While Black/Brown in NJ? I am working on a news story. Thanks

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  14. 12
    Tim says:

    I am a white man and in 2002 I was arrested for this charge of wandering also. It was in Newark, NJ. I was picking up a friend of mine that lives there and while walking to his apartment, the police stopped me and told me to put my hands on my head. I thought they had the wrong person for some serious crime. One cop came around and handcuffed me and told me I was under arrest. I could not believe what was happening, I had done nothing illegal. I told them where I was going and asked if I could at least call my friend to let him know. They said no and that I was being arrested for wandering. I was taken to jail, fingerprinted and released. One cop hit me in the back of the head for “being a smart ass.” All I was doing was trying to figure out why I was being arrested. If asking a cop questions warrants being abused by them, imagine what they would have done if I really was being a smart ass. I had to go to court and paid a fine of $250. I thought the judge would let me tell her what happened and dismiss it. She wouldn’t hear a word I had to say. While in the car the two police were openly talking to each other and I heard the one say he only needed to make one more arrest to make the next rank.(I forget what it was.) I researched this and found that it is a real law but that does not make it Constitutional or right. This law gives cops the right to arrest anyone for no reason at all. Simply walking down the sidewalk like I was is reason enough for arrest and conviction. It also gives them the excuse to search people like they did me. They didn’t find anything on me and I think they were surprised. They acted as if they were going to find drugs or a gun.
    City or small town, black, white or any other race, people need to wake up to what is happening in our the USA. We are no longer a free people. The police have become militarized. It is now us against them. Every day in the paper you read about police abuse or someone being shot in the back by the police while unarmed. SWAT teams getting the wrong address. Police on camera beating people, sometimes to death. Warrentless searches. Police shooting the family dog. It has gone too far. The courts are always on the side of the police and take their word over a non police officer. Even if their is video of police doing something illegal, nothing ever happens to them besides being put on paid leave for a month, even if they murdered someone. It is out of control. And the mainstream media almost never runs this kind of thing. If it weren’t for the internet and cameras on phones , these state sanctioned crimes would never be known of.