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Thursday, July 7, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Pepper Spray Used by Maplewood Police Officer Following Fireworks


Maplewood, New Jersey: Essex County Place has learned that following Tuesday's fireworks at Memorial Park in Maplewood, an officer from the Maplewood Police Department used pepper spray, also known as O.C. spray, on people who had attended the event.

"A preliminary review of an incident that occurred on 7/5, indicates that O.C. spray was deployed by an officer who was on the scene of a large fight", Sgt. Christopher Black of the Maplewood Police Department told Essex County Place. 

Sgt. Black added that "the officers attempting to break up the fight were significantly out numbered, and were being rushed by a group of individuals that had already been ordered to disperse. This group was charging at officers as the officers were attempting to separate other individuals engaged in fighting. The O.C. spray was effective in deterring these individuals from assaulting officers and the individuals involved fled into the crowd after O.C. spray was deployed."

The VIllage Green reported that Sgt. Black stated that "the crowd eventually dispersed in the area of Elmwood Avenue near the Irvington border", and that four teenagers from South Orange and Maplewood were arrested on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to aggravated assault on a police officer.

However, witnesses to the incidents tell a different story of what occurred.

"Maplewood Police called out this boy and instigated a fight, just so they could grab him", tweeted one witness, who also posted video which appears to have been taken following the officer's use of pepper spray. 

"They just pepper sprayed everyone for no reason", someone can be heard stating in the video.

The witness also posted that "the police were more violent towards us then the people who wanted to get at us".

Another witness posted on Wednesday that officers were "forcing us to walk to Irvington last night", with video taken outside of Maplewood's Elmwood Sweet Shop, just 0.1 miles from the Irvington border.

The entire incident began 1.3 miles away along Valley Street, according to The Village Green.

Area residents are planning to engage in a 'My Life Matters' peaceful protest against police violence by walking from the Maplewood Police headquarters to the South Orange Police headquarters today at 5:00pm.

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-Photo is a file photo of an MPD vehicle from an unrelated event-

Article updated 7/8/16.