The actions of Paterson police officer Spencer Finch were deemed to be so egregious Mayor Andre Sayegh decided there was no need to wait for an administrative process to play out, which would have ultimately determined whether or not Finch could keep his job.
“We’re ushering in a new era of accountability here in Paterson,” Sayegh said. “And that’s one of the reasons why we pushed so hard for body cameras — because he was caught on body camera assaulting an unarmed man.”
The actual incident was recorded in May inside a Paterson apartment building on the body cam belonging to Finch’s partner.
The video shows Finch coming into the frame to unleash an unprovoked attack on a father who was distraught over being separated from his children.
Moments later, Finch then kneed the man in the head, while he was handcuffed on the ground.
Following an investigation, Finch was slapped with several criminal charges, and the city announced its intentions to remove the officer from his post.
Still, Finch remained on the payroll this year during his administrative appeals process.
That was until this week, when he became first officer to lose their job based on body cam video evidence.
“We’re not going to let one bad apple spoil the bunch, and we have a good bunch of police officers in Paterson,” Sayegh said.
Community activist Zellie Thomas is president Black Lives Matter chapter in Paterson.
“I think the city’s decision is the right decision,” Thomas said. “It’s something that we were advocating for. And if there is backlash from the police unions or any of the court systems, then that is something the city should be able to battle. Because justice is something that is worth fighting for.”
Finch isn’t giving up on his career as a police officer. His attorney tells, Anthony Iacullo, issued the following statement to PIX11:
“While we are clearly disappointed and not in agreement with the conclusions reached by the hearing Officer, we have already taken the necessary steps to file an appeal with the Office of Administrative Law. We are confident that Officer Finch will be restored to his position with the City, upon conclusion of the appeal process.”
The Paterson PBA, the union representing officers, did not return requests for comment.