A man being arrested by Atlantic City police Friday night was revived after his heart stopped at the scene. But what caused the condition has raised claims of police brutality by the suspect’s mother.
Ronnett Jones says cellphone video she provided to The Press of Atlantic City shows officers punching her 23-year-old son, Joel Jones, while he is handcuffed, then slamming his head against a wall.
However, police say the incident was drug-related. When Jones began to go limp as he was being arrested, the officers immediately tried to administer aid, including calling for a rush on an ambulance, according to the report.
“I don’t give a damn about drugs,” Ronnett Jones said Monday during a phone interview from AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s City Campus, where her son is being treated. “That’s no reason to do what they did to my son. They killed him. He was dead.”
According to the police report, officers observed a drug transaction at Brown’s Park, then tried to arrest Jones, who ran. He was apprehended at the nearby Schoolhouse Apartments, where he was cuffed and then put against the wall.
Video shows Jones against the wall, and then officers pushing him.
Ronnett Jones said that is when her son’s head was slammed into the wall, causing him to seizure. The report, however, says the suspect struggled with police, then was put up against the wall, where he suddenly went limp.
“Both officers said in both reports that they helped him to the ground and put him to his side,” said Sgt. Monica McMenamin, the department’s public information officer.
At that point, medical personnel was called on an “expedite,” to rush to the scene.
In addition to the drug offenses, Jones is charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence. No details were given on the tampering charge.
Chief Ernest Jubilee indicated police could not confirm reports that Jones allegedly swallowed a baggie with drugs in it, which caused him to choke.
Ronnett Jones said police at the hospital tried telling her “it may have been drugs,” but that she yelled at them that her son’s head was slammed against the wall, and said she had video.
Jones said she has been restricted from seeing her son at times. McMenamin said that as a courtesy, visitation was allowed due to Joel Jones' condition, but now that he has improved to stable condition, restrictions will be reinstated, as with any prisoner. He will be taken to the Atlantic County jail when he is well enough, and his bail will be set at $50,000.
Security at the hospital said a sergeant had allowed a limited visit by only Jones’ parents.
Ronnett Jones said that just last month the same police — who were not named — stood by her other son’s bedside urging him to pull through after he was shot at Carver Hall about 8:15 p.m April 21.
Rasheed Royster, 22, remains hospitalized just a floor away from his brother.
“What hurts is these same police came to Rasheed and said, ‘We’re going to get the guys who did this to you,’” Ronnett Jones said.
Jones said she has contacted a lawyer and plans to file a complaint against the officers.
Last week, City Council took a first step to create a civilian review board that would address claims of police harassment and excessive force. The city has said the plan is to make sure officers who are problems will be handled while protecting officers from “petty and vengeful” complaints.
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