Toms River, NJ police chief defends cops’ actions after video of encounter goes viral
TOMS RIVER — Police Chief Mitch Little has issued a response to a video he said spread misinformation about an encounter a man had with officers on Aug. 13.
In several videos posted on the New Jersey Shade Instagram account, a man identified as Jamaal Holmes accused a Toms River police officer of assault after struggling with him in the yard of a home on Branch Drive.
According to the posted videos, Holmes said he called police to his home over a custody exchange, but responding officers did not respond right away and sat at the end of the street. Holmes said he walked up the street to get their attention.
Video posted by the Toms River Police Department via its Instagram account shows the officers arriving and encountering Holmes walking in the street shouting "go get my son." The officers implore Holmes to stop and calm down but he keeps walking on the street toward his house. One officer tries to stop Holmes from entering the yard by running in front of him.
When Holmes refuses to stop, an officer extends his hands onto Holmes' chest which he pushes away. The officer eventually tackles him to the ground as several other people in the yard watch, including one person Holmes tells to keep recording video.
Holmes repeatedly told the officer he was the homeowner. When the scuffle ends, Holmes is followed by the officers into the house as a woman repeatedly says it is against the law for the officers to enter.
Officers acted correctly, Chief says
Little said he posted body cam video from one of the responding officers to defend the actions of the officers and said they were within their "legal rights and training" to follow Holmes into the house.
“It is not often I respond to negative comments on our social media, however, due to the nature of the claims against my officers, I feel the need to address this issue. I will not tolerate hate, or the promotion of hate, ignorance, and misinformation regarding any of my officers or the Toms River Police Department," Little said in a statement.
Little said police were requested to the house because of a "disorderly person" and to help facilitate a child custody exchange.
The officers were aware of a restraining order in effect against Holmes and were trying to prevent an encounter, according to Little. Little said officers have had "numerous encounters" with Holmes and that due to his history of violence, multiple officers were needed to respond.
Little said when Holmes calmed down he entered the house and the officers followed to protect the safety of anyone inside. Officers left once the child exchange was complete, according to Little. Video posted by Holmes shows him carrying a child out of the house.
Holmes said he called 911 twice and told the officers to help his mother who was trying to get his son.
A comment on the Toms River Police Department's Instagram account with the video seems to come from Holmes threatening legal action.
"Here we go with the LIES. Release my 911 calls that where ignored! Release the beginning of that footage to shows your officers sitting on my street NOT responding to my 911," @vibinmall wrote. "There is NO legal standpoint for your officers to come and Put there HANDS ON ME, on MY own Property after IIIII made, not 1 but 2 911 calls! Thanks for this though. My lawyers filing the Tory Claim notice next week."