Federal prosecutors have been called upon to investigate a February assault by a Camden County police officer who was caught on video viciously slamming an innocent man to the ground and punching him 12 times in the head.
The attorney for the victim, Edward Minguela, 32, of Camden, NJ, demands criminal charges be filed against the officer, Nicholas Romantino, 24, reported NJ.com.
Even the Camden County Police Chief, J. Scott Thomson, said he was “extremely disturbed” by the video. He was so disturbed that he suspended the officer without pay during the county prosecutor investigation.
Watch the surveillance video of the assault below:
The federal investigation was revealed Friday when the county denied an OPRA request for body camera footage because of the ongoing federal investigation.
Camden County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Alexandra McVeigh said Friday said her office is still investigating the incident, but she declined to comment on the federal investigation.
Minguela was walking away from Fairview Liquors on Collings Road Feb. 22 when police ran up with guns drawn and told him to put his hands up.
They were reportedly responding to a 911 call about a man with a gun, and Minguela allegedly matched the description, so Romantino apparently thought that gave him a free pass to brutally assault an innocent unarmed man.
The surveillance video, which Minguela obtained from the liquor store and shared on Facebook, shows him holding his hands up as an officer grabs him and slams him to the ground backwards. The vicious cop then punches Minguela 12 times in the head while 2 other officers held him down.
Minguela did not have a firearm, but the officers decided to charge their victim with resisting arrest and obstruction.
According to NJ.com, Minguela said, “officers took him to the hospital but told him there that if he told hospital staff he needed treatment, they would also charge him with the more serious offense of assaulting a police officer.”
Minguela obeyed the officers’ threats and declined medical care, but he went back to the hospital the next morning. He was treated for a fractured wrist and concussion.
His attorney, Devon Jacob of Pennsylvania, said his client was treated for a concussion and a fractured wrist.
“I look forward to learning the outcome of the police department’s internal investigation, and the state and federal criminal investigations,” Minguela’s attorney, Devon Jacob, said in a statement Friday. “These three independent investigations will undoubtedly reveal the disparate treatment, and the malicious intent of the prosecutor’s office, in continuing to violate Mr. Minguela’s civil rights by refusing to dismiss the frivolous criminal charges.”
Jacob and the Camden County chapters of the NAACP want Romantino to be criminally charged and fired.
The 2 officers that helped Romantino assault Minguela are on paid leave.