Police had claimed he attacked an officer who arrived at his home to help his sick grandmother, but an 18-year old New Jersey man says he was the one who was assaulted.
Michael Cortez says Jersey City officers choked him, hit his head against a wall, and beat him with a nightstick because he wouldn’t immediately comply with their orders during a June 8 incident, that was partially caught on camera.
Police say they arrived at EMS workers’ request at the Cortez’s Van Wagenen Avenue basement apartment last Monday just before 7:30 p.m.
Officers alleged in a police report that Cortez was combative from the start and shouted “I didn’t call no f***ing police” and “f*** the police,” and then “took a fighting stance” that caused EMS workers to flee into another room with his grandmother.
Cortez’s family says the teen was indeed upset because his already ill grandmother had just had a stroke, but say it was the officers who were first combative.
Footage filmed by a bystander shows Cortez being manhandled by officers as they escort him out of his apartment building while numerous onlookers scream in terror.
“Hey, yall choking him man. They beating the s*** outta him,” one man can be heard saying. “They tasing him! They tasing him!”
Jersey City officers do not carry tasers but the footage then shows police back off angry bystanders and tell them to claim down as officers continue to assault the teen.
Watch the raw footage:
“It’s a personal vendetta,” an unidentified cousin of Cortez said.
Cortez’s father, Michael Sr., says officers who patrol the area have for years told his son they “couldn’t wait” until he turned 18 so they could throw him in jail.
Family says Cortez was handcuffed by the officer within 90 seconds of their arrival to their apartment, who then brought him upstairs, purposely banged his head against a wall, lifted him off the ground by his neck once he was outside, and choked him.
Cortez was treated at Jersey City Medical Center-Barnabas Health for trauma sustained during the incident and was charged with obstructing a governmental function, aggravated assault on an officer, resisting arrest, making terroristic threats, throwing bodily fluids at an officer and disorderly conduct.
He was released from jail the day after his arrest on a $10,000 bond.
Carmine Disbrow, president of the local police union, said in a statement that the arresting officers “take great pride in their responsibility” and “handled themselves with the utmost professionalism” during the incident.
Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill says an internal investigation has been launched.