‘THEY COULD HAVE KILLED HIM’

Shell­shocked Tren­ton Po­lice Depart­ment hit with more bru­tal­ity al­le­ga­tions >>

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - FRONT PAGE - By Isaac Avilucea iav­ilucea@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @IsaacAvilucea on Twit­ter

Ge­n­e­sis Tor­res dis­plays in­juries he says he suf­fered at the hands of po­lice in Tren­ton.

TREN­TON » A city man said he was beaten to a pulp this month, suf­fer­ing a con­cus­sion, bro­ken bones and head in­juries, at the hands of Tren­ton po­lice of­fi­cers who pulled him over for al­legedly blow­ing through a red light.

That is when Ge­n­e­sis Tor­res and his at­tor­ney say po­lice “beat the crap out of” him.

Tor­res, a 40-year-old Con­necti­cut trans­plant who has lived in Tren­ton since he was seven years old, had been try­ing to keep a low pro­file un­til he was pulled over and roughed up the night of Sept. 2, out­side a city liquor store.

As he sat in­side the of­fice of his at­tor­ney Robin Lord, Tor­res re­counted be­ing tack­led, punched and kicked by two city po­lice of­fi­cers.

“They could have killed him,” Lord said, in­cred­u­lously as she talked of his head in­juries.

Tor­res has filed an in­ter­nal af­fairs com­plaint against TPD, and his at­tor­ney re­ceived word the depart­ment has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his al­le­ga­tions.

Tor­res said a wit­ness in the park­ing lot has come for­ward, will­ing to sub­stan­ti­ate his bru­tal­ity claims. He pro­vided his at­tor­ney with the man’s name, hop­ing she can track him down.

Po­lice said in a crim­i­nal com­plaint that Tor­res fought with of­fi­cers. Po­lice video footage of the in­ci­dent, which could show which side is be­ing truth­ful, ap­pears not to ex­ist.

Tor­res’ po­lice bru­tal­ity al­le­ga­tions come on the heels of ad­mis­sions from other city cops that they used ex­ces­sive force in ar­rest­ing sus­pects, in­clud­ing beat­ing one with a flash­light.

He said in an in­ter­view with The Tren­to­nian he plans to sue the city over the in­ci­dent.

“When I got to the back park­ing lot, I seen two cops,” Tor­res said. “They told me, ‘Don’t move, don’t move, don’t move.’ I put my hands up. As I’m fall­ing down, they’re punch­ing on me.”

Tor­res said he stopped with his hands up and didn’t run from po­lice. He has signed a pa­tient-con­fi­den­tial­ity waiver al­low­ing his at­tor­ney to get his med­i­cal records. While it was pro­vided pho­tos of his in­juries, The Tren­to­nian was not given ac­cess to Tor­res’ hos­pi­tal records to sub­stan­ti­ate his claims.

The al­le­ga­tions from Tor­res, which a po­lice spokesman wouldn’t di­rectly ad­dress, are an­other low blow for the depart­ment at a time when the city po­lice di­rec­tor Ernest Par­rey Jr. is un­der fire. The Tren­ton chap­ter of the NAACP has asked for his res­ig­na­tion, say­ing it has lost faith in his abil­ity to lead. Com­mu­nity ac­tivists were en­raged af­ter Par­rey was caught on tape call­ing city res­i­dents “hood rats.”

Crit­ics said the deroga­tory term was racist and showed that, from the di­rec­tor on down, po­lice view city res­i­dents as “sub­hu­man.”

Fol­low­ing the re­lease of body cam­era footage that caught three city cops dis­cussing how to get away with us­ing ex­ces­sive force, the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of New Jer­sey called for an out­side in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether city po­lice have en­gaged in a pat­tern and prac­tice of bru­tal­ity.

Po­lice spokesman Lt. Stephen Varn was asked to ad­dress Tor­res’ al­le­ga­tions but would only say in a text mes­sage, “It’s the pol­icy of the depart­ment not to com­ment on in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

Varn said, once com­pleted, re­sults of the IA in­ves­ti­ga­tion would be turned over to Tor­res.

Tor­res and his at­tor­ney hope, by speak­ing out, they may help put an end to what they view as il­le­gal ac­tions of an out-of-con­trol force.

“This s*** needs to stop and stop now,” Lord said, promis­ing to file a civil tort claim no­tice against the city in the com­ing weeks. She has up to three months to do so. “I’ve been com­plain­ing about po­lice bru­tal­ity in this city for decades. It’s about time they do some­thing about it.”

Lord and Tor­res are strik­ing while the iron is hot, with the po­lice di­rec­tor on the hot seat. Though he has ex­pressed con­tin­ued con­fi­dence in Par­rey, Mayor Eric Jack­son ac­knowl­edged in a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view with The Tren­to­nian that Par­rey’s days as po­lice di­rec­tor may be num­bered. When asked about a change in lead­er­ship, Jack­son said that Par­rey was the po­lice di­rec­tor “to­day.”

With the elec­tion com­ing up, one city coun­cilor read that to mean the first-term mayor may be changing his mind on Par­rey.

Lord wouldn’t go so far as to call for the po­lice di­rec­tor’s res­ig­na­tion. She said Tor­res’ case proves the prob­lem with the depart­ment is more en­trenched than one man.

Hand­cuffed to the bed, Tor­res spent three days in the hos­pi­tal af­ter his en­counter with the cops.

He showed The Tren­to­nian pho­tos of his bat­tered, bruised and blood­ied face, taken days af­ter the bru­tal beat­down. He had two black eyes in the pho­tos and scratches and cuts on his fore­head.

He still sported a shiner un­der his right eye as he spoke.

“I had mad blood in my eyes,” Tor­res said.

Which is part of the rea­son Tor­res said he couldn’t iden­tify his as­sailants.

The of­fi­cer who drafted Tor­res’ crim­i­nal com­plaint, Har­ri­son Steimle, ac­cused the city man of fight­ing with po­lice.

Steimle was ac­com­pa­nied by de­tec­tive Jorge Me­jia, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments ob­tained by The Tren­to­nian.

Tor­res was charged with ag­gra­vated as­sault on of­fi­cers, re­sist­ing ar­rest and drug pos­ses­sion. Lord claimed po­lice filed an ag­gra­vated as­sault charge to “cover [their] asses.” Cops con­tend they found co­caine and mar­i­juana af­ter ini­ti­at­ing the car stop.

A prob­a­ble cause af­fi­davit said Tor­res was in a two-door Chevro­let Monte Carlo when cops tried to pull it over on Cen­tre Street. The cops, in a marked pa­trol car, said Tor­res ig­nored on­com­ing traf­fic and ac­cel­er­ated through a red light.

Tor­res said he was turn­ing right, into the liquor store, and didn’t no­tice the cops un­til he had got­ten out of his car and started walk­ing to­ward the front en­trance. They didn’t have their lights on, he said.

The cops said Tor­res was given a “loud and law­ful” or­der to stay in the car. They con­tend he took off run­ning, leav­ing the car en­gine run­ning as he tried to get away, phys­i­cally ac­cost­ing the of­fi­cers.

“We quickly closed the dis­tance to Tor­res and grabbed him,” Har­ri­son wrote in the com­plaint. “Tor­res stiff­ened his body and re­fused to place his hands be­hind his back. Tor­res struck De­tec­tive Me­jia’s fore­arms in an at­tempt free him­self. Tor­res vi­o­lently swung his arms with closed fists and struck at us as he at­tempted to es­cape.” Lord called the cops’ al­le­ga­tions stan­dard boil­er­plate, cut and pasted from “their iPhones.” The real vic­tim, she said, is Tor­res who also suf­fered a frac­tured jaw and cheek­bone. Of­fi­cers also broke his nose, over a mi­nor traf­fic vi­o­la­tion, Lord said. Tor­res was un­able to say for cer­tain which of the two of­fi­cers pushed him over the guardrail af­ter he gave him­self up, rais­ing his hands in sur­ren­der. “I didn’t want to get shot,” he said, ac­count­ing for some of the shoot­ings of un­armed black men that cap­tured the na­tion’s at­ten­tion and led to calls for po­lice re­form. “I didn’t want them to think I had a weapon.” Tor­res said he blacked out, un­able to re­call de­tails, af­ter hit­ting his head on the ground in the park­ing lot of Lam­ber­ton Liquors. His legs were still wrapped around the guardrail he fell over when one of the cops shoved him in the chest. Un­able to brace him­self or break his fall, Tor­res’ head bounced off the ground af­ter he vi­o­lently slammed into the pave­ment. When he came to, po­lice of­fi­cers were on top of him show­er­ing him with hard blows. Lord has asked TPD for body cam footage of the en­counter. She said she was told by a de­tec­tive in the IA unit the depart­ment’s street crimes unit isn’t out­fit­ted with body cams, at the dis­cre­tion of the po­lice di­rec­tor. Lord said she was sur­prised to find out the unit that ar­rests hard­core crim­i­nals isn’t re­quired to wear cam­eras. She’s hop­ing the in­ci­dent in­volv­ing her client may have been caught on tape when pa­trol of­fi­cers, who are strapped with cam­eras, showed up to the scene. “You have to ask [Par­rey],” Lord said. “I think I’ll ask the mayor.” Tor­res hopes for a good out­come in his crim­i­nal case and to get a mea­sure of jus­tice in the civil case. Or­dered by doc­tors to fol­low up with a neu­rol­o­gist, he hopes he doesn’t suf­fer per­ma­nent dam­age. “I hope no­body else goes through what I did,” Tor­res said.

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

Ge­n­e­sis Tor­res dis­plays in­juries he says he suf­fered at the hands of po­lice in Tren­ton.

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