By: Richard L. Smith
In a recent development, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) have announced charges against a New Jersey State Trooper for an alleged assault on a handcuffed woman.
The incident, which unfolded in September 2022 in Upper Deerfield Township, Cumberland County, is now under investigation by OPIA's Corruption Bureau.
The disturbing incident occurred on September 7, 2022, when New Jersey State Police (NJSP) troopers responded to a report of a trespasser at a residence in Upper Deerfield Township around 1:30 a.m.
As they made their way to the scene, NJSP troopers encountered the victim, who matched the description provided by the caller.
The victim appeared to be inebriated and was walking in the middle of the road.
Troopers determined that the victim required a medical evaluation, and they called for medical personnel to assist. Additional troopers, including Trooper Hogan, arrived at the scene.
According to the OPIA investigation, the victim became increasingly distraught during her detainment. She protested her detainment, wept, and attempted to walk away, prompting troopers to handcuff her and place her in one of the troop cars.It's important to note that at this point, the victim was detained but not under arrest. Prior to being placed in the vehicle, the victim had been spitting on the ground, likely due to her emotional distress.
While in the back of the police vehicle, the victim spat in the direction of a trooper standing near the open rear passenger door.
Trooper Hogan, positioned on the other side of the vehicle, outside the rear driver's side, opened the door and warned the victim about her actions.
As the victim turned toward him and spat again in his direction, Trooper Hogan allegedly punched her in the face while holding a flashlight in his hand.
Notably, the victim's hands were handcuffed behind her back, and she was secured in the backseat of the vehicle.
Attorney General Platkin expressed that the majority of law enforcement officers in New Jersey exhibit professionalism and restraint, even in challenging situations.
He emphasized that incidents like this, where force is allegedly used disproportionately and without justification against a vulnerable civilian in police restraints, will not be tolerated.
Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of OPIA, also weighed in, asserting that such use of force appears avoidable and unreasonable, especially when directed at individuals in distress who pose no threat.
He deemed it uncalled for, unhelpful, improper, and unlawful.
The case against Trooper Hogan serves as a reminder of the importance of accountability and transparency in law enforcement and is an ongoing demonstration of the commitment to upholding the highest standards of justice.