A whopping 99 percent of all complaints regarding police brutality are left uninvestigated in central New Jersey, according to a Courier News and Home News Tribune report published this week.
Between 2008 and 2012, citizens "filed hundreds of complaints alleging brutality, bias and civil rights violations by officers in more than seven dozen police departments in Central Jersey," the report reads. However, it adds that only 1 percent of these complaints -- seven percentage points below the national average of 8 percent -- were "upheld by the internal units tasked with investigating complaints against their colleagues."
In the majority of cases, the police agencies reportedly "either 'exonerated' the officers, dismissed the complaints as frivolous, determined that they did not have sufficient evidence or simply never closed the investigation."
Although an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union called these numbers "serious," the report quotes a South Brunswick police chief who insists that the agencies "do a good job of self-policing." Representatives of the Union County and Somerset Prosecutor’s Offices were also quoted as saying that investigations are conducted when they are warranted.
Several high-profile cases involving alleged police misconduct in New Jersey have made headlines in the past year.
In June, for instance, a 20-year-old man named David Castellani was allegedly hit, clubbed and kicked by a group of five police officers outside an Atlantic City nightclub, CNN reports. Castellani, whose family has filed a lawsuit against Atlantic City police, also alleges that a sixth police officer allowed his police dog to attack him.
"It's definitely the worst thing that's ever happened to me in my life," the college student told the outlet of the incident, which was captured on surveillance video. (Watch it below.)
According to Philly.com, K-9 officer Sterling Wheaten, one of the police officers allegedly involved in the attack, has been the "subject of more than a dozen internal affairs investigations and 21 civilian complaints of misconduct." He has also been sued on several occasions for alleged assault or the use of "excessive force," the report notes.
In December, Wheaten was found guilty of assaulting a 39-year-old man in 2008. The court determined that Wheaten should pay him $250,000 in compensatory damages, Philly.com writes.
Also last year, two New Jersey men filed a suit against the Paterson Police Department, alleging police brutality. Alexis Aponte and Miguel Rivera said that police officers used excessive force during a 2011 arrest, in which Aponte was allegedly kicked and dragged down the street.
The incident was apparently captured on video. The officers were eventually found not guilty of any crime by the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office, according to NorthJersey.com.
Watch a CNN video on David Castellani's case here:
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