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Home > civil liberties, criminal justice > Video Shows New Jersey State Police Officer Beating Disabled Man

Video Shows New Jersey State Police Officer Beating Disabled Man

Here’s the story:

On an early May morning in 2009, after the State Police had searched through the night trying to find two burglary suspects in Warren County, they stopped a car James Bayliss, then 21, was riding in and asked him to step outside so he could be searched.

What happened next was captured by a dashboard video camera inside a State Police patrol car. The recording, which never before has been made public, was recently obtained by The Star-Ledger.

It shows Bayliss standing against the car as Staff Sgt. Richard Wambold Jr. frisks him. A few seconds later, after what appears to be a slight movement, the video shows Wambold throw Bayliss to the ground, kneel and punch him several times in the face.

An eyewitness in a nearby home said in a sworn deposition that she watched from her window as two troopers, later identified as Wambold and Trooper Keith Juckett, then dragged a limp, handcuffed Bayliss toward a parked patrol car and rammed his head against a tire.

She said the troopers’ actions “disgusted” her.

What’s more, Bayliss is not an average young man. A car accident in 2005 left him with a permanent mental disability, and his friend driving the car that morning, Timothy Snyder, told the State Police troopers on the scene about his condition before he was beaten.

The video below (h/t PoliceMisconduct.net), which was not made public until recently, prompted the State Police to admit that the officers used unreasonable force — as if that was something either in dispute or up for debate. The police report filed by Staff Sgt. Richard Wambold Jr., the officer who inflicted the beating, stated that his excessive use of force was provoked. You see, “Bayliss repeatedly failed to heed instructions, hid his hands and stared menacingly at troopers….” He hid his hands and stared menacingly. In other words, what happened is that Bayliss failed to show Wambold the sufficient amount of respect Wambold felt he deserved — which prompted him to then slam Bayliss to the ground and repeatedly punch him in the face. Wambold’s report also said that Bayliss tried to head-butt him during the search and that he hit the trooper with a glancing blow while on the ground. Though if that is the case I cannot tell from the video. And it’s not like that would justify the officer’s actions anyway. I’m not trying to trivialize the dangers of policing, but there is nothing in the video whatsoever to indicate that any kind of violent encounter was going to occur — and you can even hear the driver telling one of the cops that Bayliss suffers from a mental disability as the result of a car accident. As armed agents of the state with the government’s okay to use deadly force against fellow citizens, shouldn’t we be asking a little more of our police officers? That they don’t just go an physically assault someone who they don’t feel has given them the proper respect that they think they’re position of authority deserves?


Image via New Jersey Star-Ledger

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  1. June 13, 2012 at 12:35 am

    …stared menacingly at troopers… I’m still waiting for the Kelly Thomas Beating verdict; I guess his ‘menacing stare’ was death-penalty inducing

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