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The town of Dover.

Activists call for independent investigation in violent Dover arrest

Cyprian Luke punched, choked by officers during arrest

By Nikita Biryukov, May 28 2019 9:05 pm

A large number of activist groups, including the New Jersey branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Morris County branch of the NAACP are calling for an independent investigation into the violent arrest of a 19-year-old man in Dover.

Video captured by onlookers on May 19 shows Dover police officers choking and punching Luke before dragging him into an ambulance.

The groups, which also include Essex Rising, Black Lives Matter Morristown, the Urban League of Morris County and Rutgers Law School Lawyers Guild, among others, are calling for the investigation into Luke’s arrest to be taken out of the Morris County Prosecutor’s hands because Dover Public Safety Director Dan DeGroot and Police Department Deputy Justin Gabrys previously worked in the prosecutor’s office.

They’re seeking to ascertain what probable cause the officers had for stopping and forcefully arresting Luke.

Luke had an outstanding warrant for domestic abuse.

The groups and a number of community activists aligned with their cause are also seeking the suspension of the officers without pay, the recoupment of any funds paid to the officers since the incident and their termination.

One of the officers involved in the incident, Dover Police Sgt. Michael Pier, has previously been sued at least twice for cases relating to excessive use of force.

Officials have not yet released the identity of the officer who choked Luke.

The activists are also asking that state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal update New Jersey’s use of force policy and mandate community policing in every New Jersey municipality.

The town held a night of healing town-hall-style event Tuesday at which residents were invited to voice complaints.

The activists held a protest preceding the town hall.

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