Police Beating of Schizophrenic Caught on Tape

Surveillance tape outside a bar reveals ruthless beating of a New Jersey man.

BySusan Donaldson James
June 06, 2009, 3:49 PM

June 6, 2009— -- Ronnie Holloway's eyes were still black and blue one week after he was allegedly beaten by a Passaic, N.J., police officer -- an attack that was inadvertently caught on a video surveillance camera.

Holloway, who is on medication for schizophrenia, joined more than 80 others outside that community's city hall Saturday to demand that Officer Joseph R. Rios III be fired.

The tape shows Holloway, 49, waiting outside Lawrence's Grill and Bar restaurant in Passaic when a police cruiser pulled up and a female officer asked him to zip up his sweatshirt. Holloway appears to comply, but Rios jumps out and begins hitting him with his fists and a baton.

The scene shows baby strollers and other pedestrians walk by in the downtown retail section of this community of immigrants and working poor.

Holloway does not appear to resist, and at one point, Rios seems to stand him back up and then slam him into the police cruiser.

"These cops know him," said Holloway's lawyer Nancy Lucianna of Fort Lee, N.J. "He's lived in the town for 25 years, does the same routine every night. He goes out after dinner, takes a walk, and paces back and forth."

Lucianna said Holloway, who is a "soft-spoken, almost childlike" man who lives with his mother, has never had a police record of any kind.

"He is compliant and calm with medication," she told ABCNews.com.

His mother, Betty Holloway, said that without the surveillance tape, the truth about what happened would never have been revealed.

She said the female officer at the scene never tried to stop the officer as her son was beaten to the ground. Both Holloways deny he had a drug problem.

Betty Holloway said her son had always respected police before this incident.

"Now, he is confused and doesn't know what to think," she told ABC reporter Stacey Sager of New York affiliate WABC.

Passaic police refused to comment for ABCNews.com. Rios, a 7-year veteran of the police department is still on active duty, according to local police reports.

The Holloways have filed a complaint with the police's internal affairs department demanding an investigation. They are also asking for the state country prosecutor's office to bring criminal charges against Rios and are filing a suit against the department for police brutality.

Family Demands Officer Suspension

"We are looking for the police department to suspend the officer pending an investigation," said Lucianna. "And I don't think this will take too much time -- maybe 15 minutes -- because the videotape speaks for itself. We don't want this to happen to anyone else."

One of the demonstrators at Saturday's rally -- Shawanna Barksdale of Passaic -- claims she, too, had been pulled from her car two years ago by Rios in a case of mistaken identity.

"I'm really upset this happened again," said Barksdale, a 30-year-old phlebotomist with three children, ages 15, 9 and 2. "It's still bad enough to be emotional."

She said Rios had jumped into her barely stopped car as she was pulling over to assist her sister, who was parked by the side of the road.

"He just attacked me," she told ABCNews.com. "He jumped in my vehicle and dragged me out by my hair. I still had my foot on the brake and wasn't even parked. He told me to get out with no explanation why, then hit me and cussed at me."

Barksdale said she was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and obstruction with a vehicle. Those charges were later dropped, but no action was taken against the police.

"I remember that," said her cousin, Khadijah Barksdale, 15, who was babysitting for the three children while Shawanna Barksdale was at the rally. "He hit her, and she had to defend herself any way she could."

"I think [the officer] should be charged with something and fired," she said. "That's just not right because he has a gun on him and all the power. He's a policeman. He shouldn't be hurting anybody."

Holloway was charged with "wandering or loitering or remaining for the purpose of obtaining drugs."

Video surveillance was set up at Lawrence's Grill and Bar to catch criminal activity. On May 29, the day of the alleged beating, the shift manager was told there had been a police incident outside and reviewed the recording.

The tape, according to Holloway's lawyer, was sent to the Passaic Police Department, "who did nothing about it."

The tape was eventually made public by the Bergen County Record newspaper.

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