AG: N.J. police officer charged with assault after unprovoked use of pepper spray

Police patrol car with flashing lights and siren on

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Updated 8:40 a.m. Friday

A New Jersey police officer has been charged with assault in connection with a use-of-force incident, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Ryan Dubiel, 31, of Wenonah, was charged with two counts of simple assault. He is accused of using Oleoresin Capsicum spray — commonly known as OC spray — on two people without provocation.

According to the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, video footage of the incident shows that two juveniles were not physically resisting or attempting to harm others or themselves. Why the juveniles were stopped by police was not immediately disclosed.

“After careful review, it was clear Dubiel’s actions are not consistent with the State of New Jersey use-of-force policy,” Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill Mayer said in a statement.

Dubiel’s body camera footage was made available on Thursday.

On June 4, around 1:30 p.m., Dubiel and another officer arrived at the 200 block of Parker Avenue in Woodlynne, New Jersey, after a man called 911, claiming teens were loitering on his property and smoking marijuana.

The footage shows Dubiel using pepper spray on two people, including a 16-year-old boy. Investigators said the two people were not physically resisting or trying to harm others or themselves at the time of the incident. The video also shows the officer chasing another teen down the street as he continues to use the pepper spray.

Dubiel, who has been with the Woodlynne Police Department for 10 months, is currently suspended without pay.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal called the alleged use of force “appalling and completely unjustified.”

“This officer, who has worked for nine different police departments, is a strong example of why we need a statewide licensing program for police officers — a proposal that I initiated and that I will strongly support when it is presented later this month to the Police Training Commission.”

Grewal added that officers — just as with licensed doctors, nurses and lawyers — must meet “baseline standards of professionalism,” and officers who fail to meet those standards “cannot be passed from one police department to another while posing a threat to the public and other officers.”

The Woodlynne officer’s charges come days after Grewal released video and audio recordings surrounding a fatal shooting involving New Jersey State Police.

Newly released dashcam video shows the final moments before an unarmed Black man was fatally shot by a state trooper in the early hours of May 23.

Sgt. Randall Wetzel, who is white, shot Maurice S. Gordon, who is Black, after the two got into an altercation during a traffic stop on the Garden State Parkway in Bass River, Burlington County.

Gordon, 28, of Poughkeepsie, New York, later died.

An investigation into the fatal shooting is ongoing.

WHYY’s Joe Hernandez and NBC10 contributed reporting.

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