Bridgeton Cop Indicted for Civil Rights Violation in 2017 Pepper Spray Incident
A police officer in Bridgeton has been indicted for offenses related to an alleged assault involving pepper spray in June, 2017.
49-year-old John Grier, III, of Cedarville is facing one count of violating an individual’s civil rights and one count of falsifying a record for submitting a false police report about the assault, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig.
Grier surrendered Thursday morning and was arraigned in court. He was released on $50,000 bond.
Authorities say on June 18, 2017, Bridgeton police officers were dispatched to a gas station for a report of two men yelling at people. When an officer arrived, the two men were located in a car and Grier arrived as a back-up officer. Reports say those two men were issued summonses and Grier left. Minutes later, an officer radioed for assistance as those two had approached an officer. As Grier returned, he grabbed a large can of OC (pepper) spray.
Honig's office says officers eventually had probable cause to arrest one of the men (the victim) for driving while intoxicated.
The account continues,
The officers approached the car in order to arrest the victim. Grier got out of his car with the large can of OC spray in his hand and told another officer to “step back,” despite the fact that the officer had nearly finished handcuffing the victim. While holding the OC spray, Grier asked the victim “do you want to feel pain, sir?” Other officers were able to handcuff the victim without incident.
As an officer attempted to the place the handcuffed victim into the rear of a patrol vehicle, Grier sprayed the victim in the face. The victim doubled over. An officer helped the victim up and sat him on the edge of the rear seat of the police SUV. Grier then sprayed the victim for a second time. After the second burst of OC spray to the face, Grier asked the driver “there, how do you like it now? Now get in the goddamn car."
Honig says Grier filed a false police report that said the victim, "refused [to enter the police vehicle] and continued to forcefully remain outside the vehicle," and, to falsely justify the use of the pepper spray a second time, said the "spray did not strike [the victim] in the face and that it did not take immediate effect[.]"
If convicted on both counts, Grier faces decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
In speaking of the case, FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch, Jr., said, "Civil Rights violations are of great concern, particularly when the allegations involve a member of law enforcement. The public has an absolute right to trust that law enforcement will protect those they serve and keep them safe. When that trust is violated, it makes it more difficult for our fellow police officers and federal agents to maintain the community's confidence."