Policing in this country really seems to be going to the dogs. Yes, that’s a silly euphemism, at least unless you live in Vineland, New Jersey. A video filmed a week ago Tuesday appears to show local police allowing a K9 dog to tear into the face of what looks to be an unarmed black man while he is curled up on the ground. The man, identified as 32-year-old Phillip White, later died while in police custody.
The police were responding to a report of a disorderly person, who was “screaming and yelling,” according to a local television station with access to the police radio transmissions of the incident. Multiple officers arrived on the scene and requested backup, yelling as they allege White reaches for one of their weapons. Moments later, one of them reports, “Slow units down. Subject under apprehension. Tried disarming me.”
According to a statement from Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae, “White was handcuffed and restrained… White was placed in an emergency vehicle to be transported to the hospital. At some point during transport White became unresponsive.”
Philadelphia’s NBC10 station reported that the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office said White, the father of three, was transported to a local hospital for “respiratory distress,” where he was declared dead, despite efforts to revive him.
The person who shot the footage, which is from a phone, is shown being approached by police, saying, “I need your information and I’m going to need to take your phone.”
It is legal to film police interactions in New Jersey.
The situation is under investigation by the New Jersey State Police, Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, and a private lawyer hired by the family named Conrad Benedetto.
This is the second death involving police in Cumberland County since last December, when Jeramie Reid was shot and killed by Bridgeton police during a traffic stop after officers allegedly saw a handgun. It was later revealed that Reid was suing the county for allegedly being assaulted by corrections officers while he was in the county jail.