NEWARK, N.J. – A 14-year-old Newark boy won’t be able to play baseball for months after police allegedly broke his shoulder and left him lying in the street.
An attorney for the family of Jamod Watkins is also alleging that police officers ‘fondled’ the boy’s genitals while he was pinned to the ground.
So far, only one Newark police officer has been suspended.
Newark Police and an Essex County Sheriff’s officer made the stop at around 7 p.m. on February 2nd, just outside a grocery store on 7th Avenue in Newark.
Newark’s Director of Public Safety Anthony Ambrose stated that when an investigation by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is complete, they will take appropriate action.
“I just wanna know why these officers are still walking the street,” said Shaquanna Watkins, Jamod’s mother. “My son is a great kid.”
According to the family’s attorney, Rosemarie Arnold, Jamod has never been in trouble with the law. Arnold alleges that the stop happened: “for absolutely no reason, besides the fact that he is black.”
She says seven white and hispanic officers were involved.
“He was down on the ground for about seven minutes while they fondled his privates, while they handcuffed him, they held his hands behind his back and tried to get him to confess to having done something wrong, which he didn’t do,” said Arnold.
Watkins’ arm is currently in a sling and his family says he will need surgery.
“It was terrifying. I wouldn’t imagine that something like this could happen to me,” said Jamod.
Surveillance video shows Jamod exiting the RM Grocery store and unmarked police cars pulling up. Plain clothes officers appear to sprint towards someone, but it’s difficult to make out anything further.
According to the Watkins’ and their attorney, Jamod exited the store after buying hot dogs and rolls to make dinner for his little brother, when the officers ran up.
“He thought he was gonna be mugged, so he ran,” says Arnold, “And when the cops verbally identified themselves, without showing badges, he froze in his tracks, put his hands in the air. But nonetheless, these officers knocked him down and grabbed his left arm and pulled it with such force that they cracked it in half.”
Detective Wilberto Ruiz, a two-year veteran of the Newark Police Department’s gang enforcement unit, has been suspended for failing to report the stop within 24 hours. The other officers involved have been re-assigned and are being investigated.
The Watkins’ family plans to sue for Jamod’s medical expenses and other damages.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.