Orange Co Cops indicted in assault on Youths :: Washington Confederation of Clubs :: Wear your Patch with Pride

BY: William Kleinknecht and Kevin C. Dilworth New Jersey – 3 East Orange cops indicted in assault on youths by William Kleinknecht and Kevin C. Dilworth/The Star-Ledger Wednesday August 13, 2008, 6:26 PM Three East Orange police officers have been indicted on charges they threatened to kill two teenagers they believed had thrown rocks at their patrol car, prosecutors said today. Officers Jon Cato, 31, and Hakim Davis, 34, were charged in the 23-count indictment with kidnapping and official misconduct for allegedly leading the 17-year-olds out of their apartment and making them lay face down on a porch at gunpoint. Davis, once referred to as a law enforcement role model, is also accused of placing the barrel of a gun inside the mouth of one of the teens. Officer Dave Sheridan, 24, who did not take part in the threats but allegedly made no effort to stop them, was charged with conspiracy and official misconduct. Mayor Robert Bowser and city Administrator Reginald Lewis said Police Chief Ronald Borgo took immediate action against the officers. “In light of the nature of the charges, Chief Borgo has relieved all three officers of their duties, placing them on suspension, without pay, pending the outcome of the judicial process,” Lewis said in a statement. Sheridan’s attorney, Patrick Toscano, said his client had done nothing wrong. “When the matter is over, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is going to owe him three things: back pay, reinstatement and a huge apology,” Toscano said. The incident took place around midnight on May 31, when a patrol car carrying Cato and Davis was struck by rocks at South Arlington Avenue and Beech Street as the officers were responding, with lights flashing, to a reported shooting, said Peter Sepulveda, an Essex County assistant prosecutor. Sepulveda said the rocks, which hit the passenger door, did little damage, but the officers said they nearly caused the patrol car to crash. With other officers continuing the response, Cato and Davis arrested two youths, ages 15 and 16, for the rock throwing, Sepulveda said. He said they then went to a second-floor apartment on Beech Street in pursuit of others they believed responsible. Two 17-year-olds who lived in the apartment were in bed and later determined to not be involved. But when one of them opened the door to the officers, Davis grabbed him and punched him twice in the face, while Cato pointed a gun at the other boy’s chest, the prosecutor said. “These kids were never part of the group outside,” Sepulveda said. “They got out of bed when they heard the knocking and the officer punches one of them in the face.” The officers took both youths to the front porch and made them lay face-down at gunpoint, Sepulveda said. Davis put his gun on the face of one teen and, when he protested, forced it in his mouth and threatened to kill him, the prosecutor said. Sepulveda said a number of people witnessed the incident. Neither teen was charged with the rock throwing, and the two youths who were arrested earlier had their charges dismissed in juvenile court. The officers were indicted after an investigation by the East Orange police internal affairs unit and the professional standards bureau of the prosecutor’s office. Cato and Davis are both five-year veterans of the force; Sheridan came on the job in September 2006. Cato and Davis each were earning $59,328 a year, as of March 31, 2007, according to the state Pension Office. Sheridan’s salary could not be immediately determined. Lawyers for Cato and Davis could not be reached for comment. Davis was once hailed as a law enforcement role model in East Orange. During a Feb. 5, 2007 swearing-in ceremony for 12 new recruits, former Police Director Jose Cordero told the newest members of the East Orange Police Department to look at Davis, then a detective, and other officers around them as people they should emulate.

“There are no better role models than those around you,” Cordero said.

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