Shore Chief: This Isn’t Excessive Force. It’s Police Professionalism
POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Officers in a video viewed more than 230,000 times as of Tuesday afternoon — showing the rough and hectic arrest of a man on the boardwalk — are being defended by the community's police chief for their "constant professionalism."
The account posting the video (caution: profanity) said police used "excessive force because this man had an open beer." It shows five officers struggling to place the man, since identified by police as Zakee Murphy, 29, of Garfield, into handcuffs on the boardwalk late Sunday afternoon.
An officer pushes aside a bench that Murphy tries to use for support, and police surround Murphy, trying to pull him down. Murphy, who is not wearing a shirt, stands on one foot before being brought down by an officer and continues to flail on the boards.
A crowd surrounds the officers as they gain control of the man and placed him in handcuffs.
"Why you all bothering him," a woman asks the officers before repeatedly asking "why y'all doing that to him?"
Another woman off-camera repeatedly says "use your verbal commands."
"They don't have no f***ing training," a woman head on the video says. "Look. Look. It takes 10 of them to put on one handcuffs ... embarrassing. F***ing embarrassing."
"Congrats. You did something with your f***ing day. D***heads. Your f***ing mothers should be ashamed. A**holes," a man in the crowd says to the officers.
The officers stand Murphy up and walk him off the boardwalk.
Police chief Joseph Michigan said in a statement that Murphy was not arrested for drinking a beer, but was charged with failure to give his proper name, obstruction and resisting arrest.
Murphy gave a false name and walked away from police ignoring orders to place his hands behind his back, the chief said. He was processed and released from police headquarters, according to Michigan.
"No excessive force was used on Mr. Murphy. In fact officers in the middle of the attempting to restrain Mr. Murphy can be seen removing a bench from the area to prevent an injury. Mr. Murphy and all involved officers walked away unharmed and he was safely removed from the scene," Michigan said in his statement.
Michigan said there were a large number of officers involved in the arrest because a "volatile crowd" had gathered and was shouting obscenities.
"Additional officers were called to ensure the safety and security of all patrons on the boardwalk at the time," Michigan said.
Mayor Paul Kanitra promised to get tough with bad behavior and people who treat the town like "an absolute toilet" after large crowds descended on the beach hours after Gov. Phil Murphy lifted his "stay-at-home" executive order on June 9. Six people were arrested on charges related to drugs or drinking.
The chief criticized those who "attempt to portray our officers and town in a negative light to get all the facts before spreading misinformation; law enforcement has enough challenges to contend with in our current climate."