Prosecutor Investigating After Cop Seen Punching Man on Ground
WILDWOOD — The Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating what it calls a “police incident” after a brief video circulated online showing an officer repeatedly punching a person on the ground.
The version of the video that appears to be shared most widely starts off showing four officers on the sidewalk struggling with a person on the ground. A second in, there's a cut in the video, and several of the officers are seen standing around the individual, while three other uniformed individuals remain on the ground with him, two holding him. The third, on his knees, is seen punching the man on the ground at least seven times in quick succession.
The police seen in the video appear to be white. The man being punched appears to be black.
A version of the video posted to Twitter by Jeff Pilla — who told CBS Philly he witnessed the incident along with the person who shot the video, Joe Kirk, in front of Romeo’s Famous Pizzeria — is only nine seconds long. It has no audio and gives no context as to what led to the incident, which the prosecutor's office said happened around 3 a.m. Sunday. The version of the video on Twitter show's Kirk's name and appears to be taken from a version he'd posted to another platform.
The prosecutor's office in a statement said it is investigating "whether or not the action violated NJS 2C:3-7, use of justifiable force to effect an arrest, or any other related criminal statutes."
It didn't say who the individual seen being punched was, or whether he'd been charged with any crime. Wildwood Police haven't yet returned a message seeking more information about the incident.
Kirk told CBS Philly it was "totally unnecessary" for officers to punch the man. Kirk did not immediately respond to a message from the Townsquare News Network.
A woman identified only as Quinette told 6 ABC Action News the man being punched is her son, Arthur Wells, 24, and he is being treated at a hospital in Delaware. Quinette told 6 ABC Action News her son was bruised on his face, arm and legs and could barely talk afterwards.
Wells was never treated by a nurse when he was taken to a jail after being charged, she told 6 ABC Action News.
Mayor Pete Byron told the Townsquare News Network he could not comment on the incident on the advice of the city solicitor.
A lawsuit was filed against Wildwood police by Emily Weinman of Philadelphia whose violent arrest in 2018 on the beach was captured on video, after police approached her to ask if she was drinking alcohol and underage, and she refused to give her name. Local authorities cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.