BRIDGETON — A former Millville police officer was sentenced Friday for using excessive force against two women during separate 2018 arrests, leaving one with seven broken ribs.
Joseph Dixon, 29, of Millville, was given two years of probation and 364 days in jail by Judge Robert Malestein in Cumberland County Superior Court, the state Attorney General’s Office said in a news release. However, Malestein suspended the jail sentence on the condition of completing probation; if Dixon violates his probation, he will be required to serve the jail time.
Dixon pleaded guilty Nov. 20 to two counts of third-degree assault, according to the release. He previously resigned from the Police Department and is barred from law enforcement and public employment in the state.
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On Feb. 25, 2018, Dixon arrested a woman for allegedly driving while intoxicated on West Main Street, according to the release.
The woman repeatedly asked to call her husband and turned to face Dixon twice while he was handcuffing her. Dixon “grabbed the woman around the neck, flipped her over his extended leg and threw her to the ground,” authorities said, before dropping on top of her to handcuff her.
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He then ignored the woman as she repeatedly told him he had broken her ribs, that she could not breathe and that she needed to go to the hospital, according to the release, telling her if she could talk, she could breathe. He then drove her to the station for breath testing and processing.
Dixon didn’t note her complaints in his investigative report, and indicated in his use-of-force report that no injuries had occurred, the release states. The woman had seven broken ribs, one of which had to be removed.
Then, on March 24, 2018, Dixon was responding to a shoplifting call involving a boy at a supermarket when the shoplifter’s mother became argumentative because she didn’t have the identification officers requested to release the child, according to the release.
When the woman backed away from Dixon after he told her she was under arrest, he “grabbed her upper body with both arms, flipped her over and slammed her down on the floor,” authorities said, before dropping on top of her and using pepper spray while handcuffing her, as dozens of people stood nearby, many of whom reacted to the spray.
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Dixon took the woman to the station for processing, but her family members called for an ambulance and she was taken to the hospital as soon as she got there, according to the release. She had a bruised hip and burning eyes from the pepper spray.
Authorities did not identify either woman.
State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the prosecution shows the office’s resolve to hold officers accountable if they use violent force without justification.
“When officers use force that has no reasonable relationship to any resistance or threat they face, as Dixon did, they not only injure and traumatize those involved, they do a tremendous disservice to all of their fellow officers who uphold the highest law enforcement standards and work hard to secure the trust of the communities they serve,” Grewal said.
Earlier this month, suspended Millville police Officer Jeffrey Profitt, 40, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault after he was accused of assaulting a man after his arrest in 2016 and then lying about it to superiors.