On Tuesday, Jan. 10, activists held a press conference in front of Newark City Hall to demand the firing of Police Officer Angel Pared, who was seen on a March 2010 video punching 15-year-old Travis Rattray, an African-American male, during a search on Spruce Street.
After a month-long trial, Pared was acquitted on Jan. 5 of the charges of aggravated assault, two counts of official misconduct and one count of falsifying public records. The officer had been working as a plainclothes detective on that March night when he came across Rattray. Pared stated that he thought he saw someone handing Rattray drugs, but the teen later said that they were earbud headphones. No drugs were found on him.
Pared had written in his police report that Rattray swung at him first. However, the shocking two-minute video revealed otherwise. While testifying, Pared said that the statement was a mistake and claimed that he believed Rattray was reaching in his pocket for something, possibly a gun. It was proven that Rattray was unarmed during the encounter.
According to NJ.com, Pared still faces police departmental charges-he remains on the force-and faces a civil lawsuit filed by the teen’s mother, Erika Hankerson.
The court’s decision to acquit Pared has left many Newark residents outraged. Zayid Muhammad, the national minister of culture for the New Black Panther Party and family spokesperson for Rattray and his mother, referred to the city’s Police Department as “a den of corruption that needs to be cleaned up.”
Muhammad stated that there is an ongoing war being waged against Black and Brown youth by police across the city. “It is Black and Latino kids getting their behinds beat out here by the police. You won’t find any white kids getting their brains scrambled by Newark police.”
He, along with press conference organizers, called for an additional federal investigation of the Newark Police Department, which has already been in effect since this past summer.
Muhammad also mentioned that Hankerson and her son have been threatened and harassed by some local police officers.