This April 16, 2012 WPIX news story is really disturbing. A police officer from the Bogota, New Jersey Police Department was called out because of what the article describes as a "emotionally disturbed" young man who needed to be hospitalized. (Probably some sort of mental illness.) The young man was, according to the report, not violent, not armed, and yet two backup officers from another police department tackled him and started punching him. The officer stopped an unnecessary and unlawful use of force--and she is about to lose her job:
Tasca's dashboard camera captured her as she attempted to stop two officers from beating an emotionally disturbed young man. Just days after the incident, she was told she was being suspended with pay. A year later, her trial is about to begin as the Bogota PD seeks to fire her.
In Bogota, officers control whether or not their dashboard camera rolls. Fortunately, when Officer Tasca responded to a call in April 2011, she clicked her unit "on." The black-and-white tape captures it all--a mother, Tara, screaming for police to stop punching her son on their front lawn. She had called to have her emotionally disturbed son Kyle taken to the hospital. Bogota police responded while waiting for the ambulance. Tasca was the sole officer on the road that day, so she called for back-up according to protocol. Ridgefield Park police then sent two officers. Tasca had just completed her state-mandated training for working with emotionally disturbed citizens.
Tasca described what we see on the videotape: "The Ridgefield Park officer automatically charges and takes him down to the ground. I was quite shocked. As he's doing that, another Ridgefield Park officer flies to the scene in his car, jumps out and starts punching him in the head."Now, dealing with the mentally ill is sometimes very confusing. Unpredictability is always a problem, more than when dealing with a criminal. Police officers, like the rest of the population, have certain assumptions that they make when dealing with the mentally ill. When there is ambiguity as to whether someone is a danger to the police, I am inclined to give police the benefit of the doubt. But this does not appear to be one of those cases--and the police officer who made the right decision is about to lose her job?
The article also implies that another factor in the decision to fire her is that she is the only female, and only openly gay officer on the Bogota police force. I find it hard to believe that in a state as far left as New Jersey that this would be an issue. The unwillingness to go along with another officer's abuse of authority seems a more plausible explanation.
The hearings were still going on April 26 and unsurprisingly, the other officers have a different explanation of what happened.