What to Know
- Video widely circulated on social media captures the rough arrest of a 19-year-old New Jersey man in Dover early Sunday
- It's not clear what happened prior to the footage; Cyprian Luke was being arrested for failing to show in court on an unrelated matter
- Dover's public safety director said the Morris County prosecutor's office is investigating and he could not comment further
WARNING: The footage is violent and some viewers may find it disturbing.
Authorities are investigating after video surfaced on social media showing New Jersey police punching a 19-year-old suspect in the face as he was pinned to the ground, then dragging him across a street with one shoe over the weekend.
Cyprian Luke, of Morristown, was a "fugitive wanted for aggravated assault" when Dover police tried to take him into custody early Sunday, the local mayor and public safety director said at a news briefing Monday. He allegedly resisted arrest, they said, and the aftermath played out on shocking cellphone video.
Calling the footage "disturbing," the mayor confirmed the attorney general and the Morris County prosecutor's office are investigating. The three officers involved, one of whom is a sergeant, have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The exact sequence of the video clips isn't clear, and News 4 does not have information on what happened prior to the events seen unfolding in the footage.
In one clip, Luke is seen pressed against the ground, his hands seemingly holding his head as one officer pushes his body into the pavement. The cops are telling him to put his hands behind his back.
"Put your hands behind your back!" one officer screams. Then Luke is punched twice in the face. "Stop resisting!" Another appears to grip Luke by the neck. His face turns purple as officers yell, "Roll over onto your stomach" as at least three of them hold Luke down by the head and each arm.
At another point, Luke is seen sideways on the ground, one officer holding onto his arm as the person shooting the video hurls a number of slurs and curses the officers' way. Then, at least four cops are seen tousling with Luke on the ground. His face is bloodied, his head pressed into the pavement as about half a dozen officers press him to the ground and put him in handcuffs.
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In another clip, two officers are seen hoisting a handcuffed Luke up by his arms. His head bends toward the ground as his arms are lifted higher into the air by the two officers. One of the witnesses recording asks for an officer's badge number.
"Shut the f--- up," the officer says.
Later, the officers are seen hauling Luke off down the street, his pants well below his waist. He also appears to be missing a shoe. The officers appear to be dragging him to a waiting ambulance.
Ultimately, about 35 officers responded to the fray. Some ended up with minor injuries. The public safety director declined to comment on the police tactics seen in the video, but said officers are trained to ramp up force "one notch at a time." He declined to say whether the officers followed protocol in this case.
Meanwhile, dozens of people protested outside the Dover police headquarters Sunday night, including Luke's mother, Mary Yurley.
"My son could’ve died, he was blue in one video where he’s being choked and maced for no reason,” Yurley said. "My son’s not resisting he was not being able to comply with what the officer was telling him to do."
Another protester, Kisha Pinnock, echoed Luke's mother's statements, saying the video shows he couldn't move.
“They has a knee in his stomach and they were saying, turn around turn around," Pinnock said. "He couldn’t even turn around but yet when he couldn’t turn around then they are still punching him in the face."
Luke was arraigned on Monday, sporting a black eye and multiple bruises. Details on an attorney for him weren't immediately available. He's due back in court on May 23.