Police bodycam video shows alleged 'unjustified' pepper spray use in Woodlynne

Trish Hartman Image
Friday, June 12, 2020
New bodycam video shows "unjustified" pepper spray use in Woodlynne, NJ
An officer in Woodlynne, Camden County is facing charges after prosecutors say a video shows police use of pepper spray against two young men was "unjustified."

WOODLYNNE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Body camera video released by the Camden County Prosecutor's office Thursday evening shows the moments before and after a Woodlynne police officer allegedly used pepper spray in an unjustified manner.

The video shows several officers talking to the group on a porch in Woodlynne, saying they received a complaint about trespassing from a property owner, and they ask the people on the porch for their names. Many of them refuse.

After about two minutes, an officer tells a young man who is sitting on the porch looking at his phone to put his hands behind his back, as the young man says he's texting his brother.

Several moments later, the officer deploys pepper spray at the young man, and then sprays the group of people on the porch. The officer then chases another person to the corner as he deploys the spray.

A Woodlynne, New Jersey officer is facing charges after video captures an "unjustified" pepper-spraying incident.

Prosecutors say the camera was worn by Woodlynne officer Ryan Dubiel last Thursday.

The Camden County Prosecutor says according to current use-of-force protocols, a police officer is allowed to use force when someone refuses to comply with an officer's commands at the time of arrest or when the subject threatens the officer's safety. Prosecutors say this use of force was not justified and announced two counts of simple assault against Dubiel on Wednesday.

Action News spoke with one of the victims Wednesday night.

"We saw it over the internet and stuff, but we never thought it would happen to us," said 16-year-old James Horn.

Horn said he was hanging out with some friends on the 200 block of Parker Avenue last Thursday when officers approached.

A 911 call released by the Camden County Prosecutor recounts a property owner complaining about a group of teens loitering and smoking marijuana.

"My friend said he was going to call his brother and the officer said no. But his brother is his guardian so he said he was going to call him anyway. And then the officer started pepper spraying everybody on the porch," said Horn.

Dubiel is charged with two counts of simple assault, accused of wrongly spraying the teen and his 20-year-old friend. The two victims were cited for underage tobacco violations.

A Woodlynne, New Jersey officer is facing charges after video captures an "unjustified" pepper-spraying incident.

Dubiel is now suspended from the Woodlynne Police Department without pay. The prosecutor says the 31-year-old has worked for nine police departments.

New Jersey's attorney general said this is "a strong example of why we need a statewide licensing program for police officers."

Woodlynne Councilman Clyde Cook says Dubiel has been investigated for misconduct before.

"I question once again, our mayor, why would you put an officer, or allow an officer to be on the street, knowing he has two strikes against him against the general public?" said Cook.

Action News spoke with Woodlynne's public safety director Thursday, but he wouldn't answer any specific questions, saying borough officials will issue a statement Friday.

Action News was not able to reach Dubiel for comment.