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Surveillance Video Captures Alleged Paterson, N.J. Police Brutality

Lawsuit Against Police Claims Victims Were Beaten Nearly Unconscious

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two northern New Jersey men are using footage from a surveillance camera to help support their allegations of police brutality.

The video appears to show Alexis Aponte of Paterson being kicked by Paterson officers before being dragged down the street during a Sept. 3, 2011 arrest.

A federal lawsuit filed Friday in Newark claims Aponte and Miguel Rivera of Prospect Park were both beaten while handcuffed and lying on the ground. Aponte was a passenger in a truck driven by Rivera when police stopped them.

Their attorney, Darren Del Sardo, said the video was from a camera outside the Rivera family’s home. It mostly captured what happened on the passenger side.

“When you inflict injury to them, punch them, kick them, grab them — essentially what you’re doing is you’re showing a sign of street justice,” Del Sardo told CBS 2’s Steve Langford.

The lawsuit names Paterson police and a number of specific officers. Police officials declined comment, saying the case has been referred to the Passaic County prosecutor.

The lawsuit claims Aponte was punched and kicked multiple times and almost knocked unconscious. Rivera was also beaten and kicked nearly unconscious, according to the suit.

“I didn’t see the video, I saw it live,” Aponte’s brother, Luis, told Langford.

He added this type of force is not uncommon but said it’s never caught on tape.

“They always do that. They always do that,” Luis Aponte said.

The lawsuit also claims neither man resisted arrest, and that money, jewelry and other personal belongings taken from the men were never returned.

“You have superior officers on the scene at the time this occurs and they do nothing to stop it,” Del Sardo said.

The Star-Ledger reported the two men got into an altercation with an off-duty Paterson police officer at a sports bar several hours earlier that night.

Aponte is now in prison on weapons charges stemming from that incident at the sports bar.

“This time it was caught on camera so, hopefully, it just stops these guys from doing it to someone else,” Miguel Rivera told Langford.

Del Sardo told The Record of Woodland Park that he had been holding off filing the suit, citing concerns about what effect it might have on the charges against Aponte and Rivera stemming from the arrest. But Del Sardo said he also had to work within a two-year statute of limitations.

The Paterson police department has not returned calls for comment.

The Passaic prosecutor’s office said it cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.

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