A handcuffed man wearing a jacket and no pants was sitting on the ground outside a home he was allegedly trying to burglarize when a Penns Grove police officer kicked him in the face, according to the newly-obtained video of the incident.
Officer George J. Manganaro, 29, was charged Nov. 28 with aggravated assault after the Thanksgiving morning incident in Carneys Point and has been suspended from the force.
In the one-minute dashcam video obtained by NJ Advance Media this week, the suspect, identified as Xaviel Ramos, 22 of Hopatcong, is seen in handcuffs with an officer holding on to his arm.
Ramos begins trying to walk away but is pulled back by the officer and put on the ground. A few seconds later, Ramos appears to attempt to get up when Manganaro, who was standing to his left, is seen kicking him in the head, knocking him down. Manganaro is then seen walking toward the patrol car to pick up the hat he knocked off Ramos’ head.
Police responded to the home on Courses Landing Road on Nov. 23. after a woman at the house called 911 to report that someone had either thrown a brick through their window or punched through it and that her boyfriend was holding on to him until police arrived.
“The guy punched through the window and I guess he was trying to get into our house,” the woman said on the call. “And when he did that my boyfriend grabbed his arm and said ‘oh no buddy you’re not going anywhere.'”
She also added that he appeared to be disoriented.
“Something’s wrong with him,” she said. “We think he’s drunk.”
Salem County Prosecutor John T. Lenahan said Ramos had a minor cut to his face and was taken to Salem Memorial Hospital because he had been out in the cold, not because of the injury to his face. Hospital staff determined he was suffering from hypothermia.
Ramos had been traveling from North Carolina on his way home for Thanksgiving, Lenahan said.
“He had been out of his car for almost two hours walking through the fields trying to recover his dogs,” Lenahan said.
Ramos told the officers he was trying to break in to get warm.
“The Penns Grove Police Department finds this behavior unacceptable,” Penns Grove Police Chief John Stranahan Sr. said in a statement when the charges were filed. “Our officers must adhere to the core values established by our department policies.”
Ramos is scheduled to appear in court for his charges Jan. 18 while Manganaro is expected to appear for his aggravated assault charge Jan. 25.
“Xaviel and the rest of the family put this behind them,” Carlos Ramos, Xaviel’s father, said. “We have nothing to do with what’s going forward. That’s between the prosecutor’s office and whatever is going on.”
A man who was handed the phone at Manganaro’s listed number hung up when a reporter for NJ Advance Media identified himself seeking comment.
On the use of force report filed for this incident, it says Ramos was resisting police officer control and was under the influence.
In September 2016, Manganaro sued Penns Grove, a community activist, councilwoman and the school district, claiming negligence after he was allegedly injured on duty.
It stemmed from a 2014 incident where Manganaro was responding to a call for reports of underage drinking at a basketball game at the school gym and Walter Hudson, a community activist got involved and resisted arrest by using physical force against Manganaro. A use of force report was also filed in that incident and Manganaro said on the report that he used a compliance hold on Hudson for self-defense, defense of another, to effect an arrest and to restrain for safety.
However, Manganaro claimed in his lawsuit he was permanently injured when Hudson, a school board member at the time, threw him to the ground. Hudson pleaded guilty to aggravated assault against a police officer and was sentenced to probation.