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Police probing mall fight where Black youth was handcuffed

February 16, 2022 GMT

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) — Police in New Jersey are investigating an incident in which a Black teen was held down on the ground and handcuffed after a mall fight with a white youth, who was directed to sit down on a couch.

A video posted online shows the two teens arguing inside the Bridgewater Commons Mall, then pushing each other and throwing punches, before both fall onto the floor. Several kids who were watching the fight scatter, some pull out their cellphones.

When two police officers from Bridgewater Township arrive about 12 seconds later to separate the two, one can be seen in the video pinning the Black teen to the ground and handcuffing him. Meanwhile, the other officer is seen pushing the white teen onto a couch before going to help the second officer.

The Black youth told WABC-TV, “They basically tackled me to the ground and the male officer put his knee in my back and he started putting me in cuffs. Then the female officer put her knee on my upper back and started helping put cuffs on me. And he (the white youth) was sitting down on the couch watching the whole thing.”

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In a statement, Bridgewater police said, “We recognize that this video has made members of our community upset and are calling for an internal affairs investigation. The officers were able to respond quickly to this incident and stop it from escalating because of a tip we received from the community. We have requested that the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office assist us in this matter.”

Messages were left Wednesday with the Somerset County prosecutor’s office and Bridgewater police.

The video was posted on social media and has already accumulated over 1 million views as of Wednesday afternoon. The recording ends after the Black youth was handcuffed so it’s not publicly known what happened next to the white youth.

At an unrelated news conference Wednesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said that while the investigation is ongoing, he is “deeply disturbed by what appears to be racially disparate treatment in this video.”