By MIKE CATALINI, Associated Press
TRENTON, NJ (AP) — Six New Jersey correctional officers are facing assault and tampering charges following a 2020 interaction with an inmate at the state’s minimum detention youth prison, a the state attorney general said Friday.
Early on April 8, 2020, officers forcibly removed an unidentified inmate from his cell at the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility in Chesterfield, including firing pepper spray twice at the inmate despite his offer to handcuff him, the attorney general said. acting Matt Platkin in a statement.
The officers then filed false reports, Platkin said. One said the inmate tried to “mule kick” a shield, but video and photo evidence contradicts the report, the attorney general’s office said.
An attorney for one of the defendants and the head of the union representing New Jersey prison guards are contesting the charges.
The ordeal, according to the attorney general, left the inmate screaming in pain and covered in blood. He was given an inhaler and oxygen in the infirmary and was treated for cuts to his face, the attorney general said.
State Department of Corrections policy allows for the use of force when ‘objectively necessary and reasonable’ and requires inmates to be given the opportunity to comply before a forced cell extraction, the attorney general’s office said. .
The reason for extracting the cells was not given.
“Correctional police officers are entrusted with great authority over inmates in their custody, and when they abuse this power, they must be held accountable,” Platkin said in a statement.
Facing charges are Sgt. Michael Emmert, who faces two charges of aggravated assault as well as a tampering with records charge. Senior Correctional Officers Christopher Toth, Raymond Quinones, Michael Gaines, Mark Sadlowski and Michael Ambrozaitis.
Stuart Alterman, Sadlowski’s lawyer and attorney for the union that represents correctional officers, said in a phone call that his client and the others were not guilty.
“This is a series of unfortunate events where senior correctional officers were doing their duty and trying to do their duty and protect themselves from a very dangerous inmate,” Alterman said.
Messages were also left for lawyers for the other defendants.
Alterman said the officers were suspended without pay.
William Sullivan, the president of the union representing correctional officers, said in a text message that the officers acted professionally and did “exactly what was required of them under policy”.
“This investigation lasted more than two years. They have worked every day and have had no negative interactions at work since this alleged incident,” he said.
The Burlington County facility has about 1,000 inmates and operates as a minimum-security facility, where they participate in vocational training or college education, according to the Department of Corrections.
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