Officer Caught Beating Schizophrenic Says He Did Nothing Wrong

N.J. cops says his actions were justified and he did what he was trained to do.

ByABC News
June 6, 2009, 3:49 PM

June 11, 2009— -- A suspended Passaic, N.J., police officer who was caught on tape beating a schizophrenic man is defending his behavior, claiming he was responding in the way that his training dictated.

"I did what was proper," Officer Joseph R. Rios III said at a press conference Wednesday.

The alleged beating of Ronnie Holloway by Rios on May 29 was recorded on a video surveillance camera outside a restaurant where the incident took place.

Rios maintains that he did nothing wrong and was responding to the situation in accordance with his training.

"I did what I was trained to do under circumstances that existed at the time," said Rios. "I stand by my actions."

Rios' lawyer, Anthony Iacullo, told that portions of the surveillance video that have not been viewed by the public would prove his client's actions were justified.

"What's on the video that everyone is seeing is a portion of what took place on that day," said Iacullo. "There were communications by Mr. Holloway and the officer as well as an earlier encounter during the day between the men that wasn't on the tape."

"There are portions of the encounter that were caught on tape that aren't being shown to the public," said Iacullo.

"What is being shown on TV is snippets, not the entire tape," he said.

Asked why he thinks the entire video has not been shown, Iacollo said, "I have no idea."

It's unclear whether the video provided to the media by the Passaic police is the entire tape of the incident. Calls to the police weren't immediately returned.

Iacullo declined to comment on the specifics of the video he says vindicates his client. He said that he believes the portion of the tape is in the possession of the Passaic County Prosecutor's office.

Calls made to the Passaic County Prosecutor's office were not immediately returned.

Iacullo confirmed that Rios has been suspended from the police department without pay pending the ongoing investigation.

Holloway's lawyer Nancy Lucianna did not immediately respond to messages left by, but in an interview with ABC News' affiliate WABC she said that in the police reports Rios is never documented as being threatened. She added that nothing could have warranted what is seen in this video.

Holloway himself told WABC, "I didn't threaten anyone."

Lucianna is calling for a federal investigation into the alleged beating and the Passaic Police Department.

In an interview with earlier this week, Lucianna, of Fort Lee, N.J. said that her client was known by the local Passaic police officers.

"These cops know him," said Lucianna. "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 Holloway is currently taking medication for his schizophrenia.

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

She said a 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 WABC.

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