Witness: NJ Man was Unconscious and Handcuffed During Fatal Police Beating
A New Jersey man arrested by Vineland police died while in their custody, officials said Tuesday.
32-year-old Phillip White was detained at a home on the 100 block of Grape Street in Vineland, around 11 a.m. Tuesday. However, what exactly he was detained for is not yet clear.
Police are being tight-lipped about the circumstances of the arrest and death, but a witness says he saw the whole thing.
Ricardo Garcia told local reporters that officers were extremely physical with White, even after he was restrained and lying unconscious in the street.
“They punched him, stomped him, kicked him and then [after] they let the dog out of the car, [it] bit him on his face and around his body,” Garcia said. “There’s no call for that. Once a man is handcuffed and unconscious, you should have stuck him in the patrol car and take[n] him to the police station. Instead they decided to beat him right here.”
The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office is currently reviewing the incident, but police and investigators have released few details.
A recording of one of the officers’ radio communications from the scene suggests White may have attempted to disarm him, but that claim has not yet been substantiated.
Vineland Police Chief Timothy Codispoti released an official statement regarding the incident only to say that the lose of White’s life had been classified as an “in–custody, non-shooting death.”
Referring to the event as a tragedy, Codispoti offered his “sincere thoughts and prayers [to] the family of the deceased,” asking for patience while “[the] justice system investigate[s] th[e] matter to its truthful conclusion.”
White’s aunt, Valerie, told local reporters that she is desperate for answers.
“Why? What he was doing? I don’t know,” Valerie White said. “I’m trying to get answers and closure now. He lived a street life, but he was a human being. Bottom line.”
Local news coverage:
Cellphone footage of the incident released Friday, appears to corroborate witness statements, though White does not appear to be handcuffed.
Police have still refused to disclose the details leading to the subsequent detainment and death of Phillip White, but have said they were responding to a call about a ‘disorderly person.’
The footage shows an almost motionless White laying on the pavement being bit around his face and body by a police dog.
Watch the raw footage:
“There are great concerns about the circumstances that surround this death,” White family attorney Conrad Benedetto said. “Mr. White’s demise is the second police-involved force incident in Cumberland County within 91 days. The public and Mr. White’s family deserve answers as to how Phillip was killed and why there is a lack of oversight of local police.”
Investigation into the incident is ongoing. Police have declined to comment on the video.
Benedetto is expected to launch his own independent investigation into White’s death on behalf of the family.
Local news coverage containing clearer picture of the raw footage: