The Saturday altercation unfolded at roughly 2 a.m. local time as 19-year-old Cyprian Luke was walking past a Krauszer's convenience store near the Dover police station. Officers reportedly approached Luke because they had an arrest warrant for him on a domestic violence charge.
Video footage of the confrontation was captured by Marcus Robinson, one of Luke's friends. The pair were reportedly in the area because they were planning on getting tattoos at a local area shop.
The recording begins after police have already confronted and pinned Luke to the ground. At least three officers can be seen attempting to apprehend the teenager, one of whom appears to be placing a knee on Luke's abdomen as another officer chokes and punches him.
— Lucy Yang (@LucyYang7) May 20, 2019
"Put your hands behind your back," one of the unidentified officers yells at Luke, as he tries to protect his face from the officer's repeated blows. At this point in the footage, Luke's face is already red and bloodied, and the officer only continues to punch the teen in the head. At least three blows are captured on camera.
When an officer demands that Luke "roll over," a voice behind the camera can be heard yelling out, "how is he supposed to roll over when you're on top of him?" An officer subsequently responds by ordering the individual to move away from the scene before he ends up in handcuffs.
Robinson's recording later shows Luke being flipped onto his stomach and placed in cuffs. The video cuts off as he is being dragged away from the scene by the three law enforcement officials. He was reportedly taken to an ambulance, according to local news station ABC 7.
"They didn't tell him they had a warrant for his arrest," Christopher Luke, the arrestee's younger brother, told the station. "They just tackled him to the ground. They pepper sprayed him. He wasn't resisting at all. He was trying to cover his face, because they kept punching him."
— Tracie Strahan (@tstrahan4NY) May 20, 2019
Luke was ultimately charged with simple assault, criminal mischief and violating court orders on two different occasions, according to the Morristown Daily Record. Robinson told the outlet that he "thought [Luke] was going to die."
The following day, roughly 50 individuals, including several of Luke's relatives, protested outside of the Dover police station, chanting, "No justice, no peace, no racist police."
Rachelle Cruz, Luke's aunt, told the Daily Record that her nephew is a "great kid" and that while he gets into trouble like any other teen, he's "not a violent person."
"He lives in the Hollow, which is the toughest area to live in Morristown, and you kind of have to be a little tougher," she explained. "He doesn't like it, but he has to do what he's got to do to survive sometimes. But he's a great kid."
"The people here are doing it out of love for him," she said of the demonstration.
An investigation into the violent arrest has been launched by the the Morris County Prosecutor's Office. Luke is still in police custody, and he is scheduled to appear in court on Monday. It's unclear if the officers involved in the arrest have been placed on leave pending the probe.