A Black teenager who was arrested last week after a fight with another teen at a New Jersey mall was informed by mall security that his family must pay for a table that was broken while the police apprehended him, the New York Daily News reports.
On Monday, prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who was hired by the teen's family, released a statement with an update about the case.
“It has just been discovered that the mother of Z’Kye, the Black teenager involved, was told by the head of mall security when she went to pick him up that she would be responsible for the cost of a broken table that law enforcement knocked over as they used explicit bias and excessive force, slamming her 13-year-old son to the ground, face first, and putting a knee in his back,” Crump said in a statement.
“This offensive and unacceptable demand of payment continues to exemplify the disparate treatment of white families and Black families in America,” the statement continued. “ The only people who should be asked to pay for the damaged table are those who engaged in biased policing and caused it to be damaged—the Bridgewater Police Department.”
As EBONY previously reported, a video of police officers breaking up a fight at the Bridgewater Commons Mall in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey shows a Black teen being forcibly handcuffed while the other teen watches from the couch.
“They basically tackled me to the ground, and then the male officer put his knee in my back, and then he started putting me in cuffs,” Z’Kye, said recalling the incident. “Then the female officer came over and put her knee on my upper back too, and started helping him put cuffs on me while he was just sitting down on the couch watching the whole thing.”
The other teen involved, whose name is Joseph, told NJ.com that he isn’t white and that the police were “racist” for arresting Z’Kye.
“I don’t understand why they arrested him and not me,” said Joseph, who is Colombian and Pakistani. “I say that was just plain old racist. I don’t condone that at all. Like I said, I even offered to get arrested.”
According to reports, rumors surfaced online about the fight and police were present at the mall when they learned that the two teens planned to meet there.
“I knew that was really bad,” Joseph said. “I even offered to get handcuffed.I offered to get detained after Kye was detained, and they turned my offer down. I even asked [them] why they detained Kye and not me, and they said because Kye was resisting.”
Commenting on the incident, New Jersey's Gov. Phil Murphy said he was “deeply disturbed by what appears to be racially disparate treatment.”
Currently, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office has opened up an investigation regarding the incident and the behavior of the arresting officers.
The names of the officers have not been released.