WILDWOOD - Two officers have been reassigned to administrative duty pending an investigation surrounding a Memorial Day weekend incident captured on video that shows police punching a woman on the beach, the city's police chief said.
A statement from the Wildwood Police Department posted to their Facebook page Sunday afternoon said Emily Weinman, 20, of Philadelphia, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, aggravated assault by spitting bodily fluids at/on a police officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, obstruction and minor in possession of alcohol.
The statement added that the officers involved in the incident have been reassigned to administrative duty pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.
The incident happened Saturday on the beach in Wildwood after police stopped Weinman for alleged underage drinking.
Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano told The Press of Atlantic City on Sunday that he spoke to Police Chief Robert Regalbuto and was told the police department is reviewing all available evidence — including the viral video and footage from the officers’ body cameras — to determine what happened.
“It’s really a shame that this happened, but I don’t want to jump to any conclusions,” Troiano said. “I am confident our police department will investigate this fully and handle it appropriately.”
Regalbuto said that while he finds this video to be alarming, he does not want to rush to any judgment until having the final results of the investigation.
Weinman posted the video of the violent arrest to Facebook on Saturday night with a lengthy message.
The video depicted her kicking at one police officer before being punched in the face twice and wrestled to the ground by two police officers.
A third officer then comes into the screen to assist, and Weinman is struggling on the ground trying to get her arms free and yelling that she didn’t do anything wrong.
Several people in the background can be heard yelling at Weinman to stop resisting.
Weinman admitted in her Facebook post that she is underage and brought alcohol to the beach.
However, she said the alcohol was still sealed at the time the cops approached and that she passed a breathalyzer test.
Weinman then said she asked the cops to leave, telling them they had better things to do than stop people for underage drinking on the beach.
“The cop said, ‘I was gonna let you go but now I’ll write you up,’ and he asked my name,” Weinman said in the post. “I did not do anything wrong and anything could’ve been written down on that paper so I wouldn’t give it to him. At that point I was told if I don’t give it to him he’s going to arrest me.”
Weinman said she tripped backward when the officers started to approach her and that is when the scuffle began.
She added that she was partly to blame because she did not give the officers her name but blamed them for escalating the incident.
“This whole situation was handled wrongly and (blown) out of proportion all because these pigs didn’t do their jobs the way they were trained to do so,” Weinman said in the Facebook post. “Now, I’m over here with a sore body, banging headache and the thought of (never) trusting a police officer again if anything were to happen in the future.”
Troiano said he does not know the identity of the officers or whether they were employed year-round by the police department or were Class II officers.
He added that Class II officers, who work during the summer season, are fully trained in the local police academy and wear similar uniforms as full-time officers. The only difference is a Class II patch on the sleeve, he said.
The Wildwood Police Department is strongly encouraging anyone who was present during the incident and has more video or information to contact Detective Lt. Kenneth Gallagher at 609-522-0222. The Cape May County Prosecutors Office Professional Standards Unit will also be assisting in the investigation.