NJ judge delays decision on whether to release teen beaten by police
MORRISTOWN, N.J. — A New Jersey judge is considering the release of a teenager whose videoed arrest and beating by police went viral on Sunday. Cyprian Luke, 19, has been jailed since, prompting a protest outside Dover Police Headquarters.
“I’d ask your honor today, release Mr. Luke,” stated Elizabeth Cervenak with the Morris County public defenders office.
Cell phone video shows Luke being punched repeatedly by Dover police as officers scream at him to stop resisting arrest.
Luke was wanted for violating a court order to not contact his girlfriend and the mother of his child. He’s charged with two separate domestic violence incidents where he allegedly put his hands around her neck. But today, his defense team said the victim revoked some of her claims.
“The alleged victim reached out to us,” said Cervenak. “She indicated that at no point did Mr. Luke place his hands around her neck.”
His girlfriend, referred to as ‘S.H.’ in the criminal complaints, sobbed at times. She had an outburst as the judge weighed the evidence.
“The 911 call does not include any reference to Mr. Luke putting his hands around S.H.’s neck,” said Morris County Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor.
“That’s not true!” she exclaimed.
“I don’t listen to comments from the gallery in making my decision,” Judge Taylor responded.
Cervenak asked the judge to release Luke on house arrest with an electronic monitoring device but there was confusion over whose home he would be confined to. His mother, a Morristown resident, was present in court but defense attorneys argued for placing Luke in the home of an aunt in Mine Hill.
The judge and prosecutors needed more information about the aunt. So a decision on release or detention was postponed until Friday at 11 a.m.
When Luke discovered he’d be spending another night in county jail he sobbed. His girlfriend called out as he exited the court room, “baby, I love you!”
To which he muttered, “I don’t love you, bitch.”
The officers involved in Luke’s arrest have been placed on paid leave pending an investigation.
A community meeting and another possible protest against police brutality is planned for 7 p.m. tonight in Dover at the United Methodist Church.