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From the time Joseph Reiman was hired in July 2015, the 50-person department logged 115 incidents in which an officer used force, such as a punch, baton or weapon against a suspect, according to documents obtained under the state Open Public Records Act.Reiman, 31, the brother of longtime Mayor Daniel Reiman, accounted for 24 of the incidents, more than twice as many as any other officer.
The obtained recordings captured the reactions of officers responding to the scene of an arrest handled by Joseph Reiman. When they arrived, they were confronted with a 16-year-old suspect lying face down in gravel with "blood all over the fucking place."The officers, who have not been identified, remark that this disturbing situation is par for the course for Officer Reiman.
"I've been doing this less time than you but I've never punched anybody in the face like [inaudible]... never," an officer says in the recording."That's what I told Jerome last time," another officer responds.
The fact that these complaints never made their way up the chain of command likely has to do with the other officer at the scene: Charles Reiman, another of the mayor's brothers. As the officers leaving the scene point out, there's zero chance anyone in the department would be willing to pursue a case against the mayor's siblings.
The official narrative to explain the events, according to the officers, started at the scene and continued at headquarters: One recalls, "When I was there, they were like, 'Well, he was in a car accident. He was in a car accident.' I'm looking at this kid's face, I'm like, "that ain't a f-----g car accident... the whole side of his face has to be away from his skull and it's like repeated... lump... lump... lump."Officer Charles Reiman, the middle Reiman brother who was the second on scene, had repeated, "He wouldn't show his hands," the same officer recalls."Charlie's already, ya know, writing his thesis," he says.Another officer can be heard later in a separate recorded conversation,"They are going to blame it on the car accident... Nothin's gonna happen. They're gonna say nothing happen... he didn't have his body camera on."The officer already knew Reiman's body camera wasn't on and questioned whether anyone's recorded the incident."What do you want to bet... they're all sitting around a table right now trying to get their f-----g story straight?" one officer asks after leaving the hospital.
And there it is: the legal defense for Reiman's actions was in development before this second set of officers arrived on the scene. When it's a cop's word against a beaten 16-year-old, "he wouldn't show his hands" tends to give officers permission to handle the situation with whatever level of force they want to, rather than what's actually necessary.Joseph Reiman is now under indictment for criminal assault. He's still on the payroll while this advances through the judicial system. His history of excessive force is documented. Reiman is also a triple threat: writer, actor, and director of his own body cam footage.
[W]hile the Carteret police force is equipped with body cameras, videos that could tell the full story in some of Reiman's encounters do not exist or have been withheld, and at least one was corrupted, according to NJ Advance Media's investigation
Reiman's actions have prompted some interesting reactions. The most ridiculous reaction is that of Reiman's attorney.
Joseph Reiman's attorney, Charles Sciarra, said in a statement Friday, referring to the police heard in the videos, that these "officers are known malingerers who slow roll to calls like they did on this one, and are cut from the same cloth as the officer in the Florida school shooting who stayed outside the building while those kids were slaughtered."
Even if this were accurate, it would still be an incredibly shitty way to represent your client. It shows you're no better than the person you're representing -- someone willing to toss slurs at cops who don't regularly beat arrestees, and to portray appropriate force deployment as cowardice. But here's the thing: Reiman's attorney is making these accusations when he doesn't even know for sure which officers were captured on the recordings.
Sciarra also called on NJ Advance Media to name the officers so the attorney could "review their pitiful arrest numbers and lack of law enforcement activity as well as their agenda."
Reiman and his attorney deserve each other. Both have the mindset that efficient, brutal policing that steamrolls civilians' rights is the best policing.The other reaction is (comparatively) much better. A letter from the county prosecutor puts a new person in charge of internal investigations. This "extraordinary measure" was prompted by the department's refusal to deal with mounting excessive force allegations -- a great many of them tied to Reiman and his partner -- and it's apparent unwillingness to conduct required background checks on gun purchasers. As the letter notes, the Cataret PD has spent two years ignoring its background check duties.
The scathing letter sent by Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey to borough officials --which was obtained by NJ Advance Media Thursday but dated Monday -- orders the recently hired Carteret police director, Kenneth Lebrato, to take over the department's internal affairs unit for at least six months.[...]Carey described Lebrato as "uniquely well qualified" because of his experience in the prosecutor's office.Citing internal affairs issues in the letter, Carey calls current Carteret Deputy Chief Dennis McFadden, who is referred to as the chief in the borough's news releases, "ineffective in executing his official duties."
This may result in more attention being paid to the department's bad apples. Unfortunately, the better apples are only talking to each other, rather than their supervisors or city officials. Then again, the system is rigged against police whistleblowers, who will not only be ostracized, but possibly deliberately placed in danger by their colleagues. In this case, the system is even worse because the two officers involved in the cover-up of this excessive force are related to the top man in town. These officers stated as much on video: no one in the department would be willing to go head-to-head with the mayor's PD siblings.So, the burden falls on the public. Investigative journalism has forced the system to address long-ignored problems. But this only goes so far, and it only works when journalists are able to apply consistent pressure via records requests (which often involves expensive lawsuits). Public servants are shirking their duties. Cops who have a duty to intervene are refusing to do so. The refusal to engage in internal accountability shifts an undue amount of the burden to private enterprises, who have to pay to perform oversight tasks that the public is paying PD officials to perform. The Cataret PD has been willing to house abusive cops for years, all on the taxpayers' dime. Only now, after being exposed, is it seeking to address its multiple issues.
While there are absolutely far too many Techdirt posts featuring celebrity(?) Lindsay Lohan in these pages, most of them deal with one specific issue: her lawsuits against Take Two Interactive. At issue was a character Lohan insisted infringed on her likeness rights because the character is a drunk driver, public-fornicator, and has a backstory as a child actress. If Lindsay wants to insist that her own history lines up with that sort of backstory, I guess I won't argue with her, but the character has many other aspects that clearly have nothing to do with Lohan. Instead, the character is a parody of the sort the GTA series is famous for, with the target in this case being young celebrity stars and starlets. Coming along for the ride was Karen Gravano, who participated in a reality show about the wives of reported mobsters. Gravano sued over another character in the series with her filings essentially mirroring Lohan's. Take Two won both lawsuits, both on First Amendment grounds and due to the court finding that the characters were composite parodies, not representations of either Lohan or Gravano. Both plaintiffs appealed.And now the New York Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Take Two again in both cases.
Here, the Jonas character simply is not recognizable as plaintiff inasmuch as it merely is a generic artistic depiction of a 'twenty something' woman without any particular identifying physical characteristics. The analysis with respect to the Beach Weather and Stop and Frisk illustrations is the same. Those artistic renderings are indistinct, satirical representations of the style, look, and persona of a modern, beach-going young woman. It is undisputed that defendants did not refer to plaintiff in GTAV, did not use her name in GTAV, and did not use a photograph of her in that game. Moreover, the ambiguous representations in question are nothing more than cultural comment that is not recognizable as plaintiff and therefore is not actionable under Civil Rights Law article 5.
You can read the full opinion here, but suffice it to say that this should be the end of this nonsense from Lohan. At the same time, the court also ruled on Gravano's appeal, with identical findings.
Concurrently with this opinion comes a loss for ex-Mob Wives star Karen Gravano, who brought a similar lawsuit against Take-Two over the character of "Andrea Bottino" in Grand Theft Auto V. The appeals court fails to see a recognizable image there as well.
That should be the end of that as well. One wonders just how much in legal fees both Gravano and Lohan were billed, with the next natural thought being just how much better such funds could have been used other than to engage in a prolonged legal fight without merit, with almost no chance of success, and over an issue that was not injurious to either party? Lohan in particular has a history of looking for paydays in the form of these types of lawsuits, but it's difficult to see how she could be in the black at this point.It would probably be best to simply save that money for the future.