MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Following the arrest of a Mount Laurel man accused of harassing his Black neighbors and caught on a doorbell camera using racial slurs at a neighbor’s home, several Burlington County officials said Tuesday they’re launching an independent investigation into what they called a “pattern of racial intimidation and hostility.”
A joint statement announcing the investigation was released by Rep. Andy Kim, State Sen. Troy Singleton, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Mount Laurel Mayor Stephen Steglik.
Edward Mathews, 45, is accused of berating neighbors with racist rants and vulgar actions, and while officials said they don’t believe it was an isolated incident, the situation came to a head Friday evening in what became a massive demonstration as police responded to the neighborhood.
A Black woman in the neighborhood called police on Friday saying Mathews was harassing her, approaching her front door and shouting racial slurs, according to prosecutors. She had previously told police she suspected Mathews of “criminal mischief” involving her car.
A doorbell camera captures Mathews bringing his dogs to her front yard, repeating a racial slur and thrusting his hips in a vulgar way after police responded and talked to him, prosecutors said.
Police then received a second call from a nearby address and found Mathews using racial slurs to address four people, which appears to be the interaction caught on video that drew widespread attention online.
“…We fully understand the community’s frustration and anger as to what was witnessed in that video,” the statement from local leaders said. “We have heard from many residents that the behavior depicted by Mathews was not an isolated incident, but rather a part of a pattern of racial intimidation and hostility. Therefore, the Prosecutor’s Office is announcing that it will launch an independent investigation into any and all incidents involving Mathews in Mount Laurel.
Matthews was charged with harassment and disorderly conduct, according to police; officials later said Matthews was also charged with bias intimidation and harassment.
Those who’ve had incidents with Mathews they’d like to report can get in touch with investigations by emailing the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The investigation will also look into the Mount Laurel Police Department’s handling of Friday night’s protests outside of Matthews’ home.
“Additionally, we remind the public that if anyone has concerns about the conduct of any police department in Burlington County, you can report incidents of police misconduct to your local police department’s internal affairs office, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigations Unit at 609-265-5035, or the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability at 1-844-OPIA-TIP (844-674-2847).”