No charges for cops seen using mace, hitting deaf Paterson man
PATERSON — Officers seen hitting and using mace on a deaf man in the city last month will not face charges, according to the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office.
The investigation into the Sept, 28 arrest of Raasean Adams was forwarded to the prosecutor's office after video taken by witnesses raised concerns from the mayor and other public officials.
Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said on Monday that police were in the area of Godwin Avenue conducting a traffic stop that led to a drug arrest when they were approached by Adams.
In the video, Adams appears to be unable to speak clearly and one of the officers appears to laugh at his groaning noises and incoherent yelling. Valdes said officers believed he was drunk at the time and that he can be seen with a cup in his hand. While it is not clear in the video, Valdes said Adams attempted to grab the keys to the car involved in the stop. He was placed under arrest after flicking a cigarette at police, Valdes said. But prior to that, the video shows, the officers struggle with Adams and — at one point, when they're on the ground, an officer hits him with an elbow and pepper-sprays him.
Officers at the scene were also involved in controlling a growing crowd during the arrest. Valdes said a glad bottle was thrown near an officer's head and can be heard shattering in the video. The video ends with Adams being taken to a patrol car, but according to Valdes, after the video stopped Adams "threw himself on the ground."
He was eventually taken to a hospital for evaluation before being released into police custody, where he was charged with a disorderly persons offense and third-degree aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, Valdes said. On October 2 he pleaded guilty to a disorderly persons offense.
While making his guilty plea Adams admitted he "started to behave in an agitated way" while standing between the police car and the car involved in the traffic stop, Valdes said. He was ordered to pay mandatory fines and penalties, according to the prosecutor.
The officers involved will not face charges, but Valdes said she will work with Paterson Chief of Police Troy Oswald to review the police response to ensure department policies and guidelines were followed. Officers could face administrative action after that review, Valdes said.
After the incident, Oswald had said that his officers used "great restraint," but added that there would be a full investigation.
Mayor Andre Sayegh, who was one of the people raising questions in the aftermath said his administration is "appreciative and encouraged by the actions of the community members to help de-escalate the incident." In the video people in the area can be heard telling the officers that Adams is deaf impaired and unable to communicate with them, even as he was taken to the ground and handcuffed.
"We need to see more of that from police officers and the community," Sayegh said.
Listening sessions will be held inn each of the city's wards "to ensure that this dialogue continues," Sayegh said. The mayor noted that he and members of his administration will "fully participate" in the sessions.
The prosecutor and chief will also review the department's de-escalation training to ensure that is as up to date as possible.