A nationally respected attorney intends to file a federal complaint against four Atlantic City, New Jersey, police officers who allegedly beat an African American teen senseless.
The attorney, William H. Buckman, an expert in civil rights law, whose offices are in nearby Moorestown, has confirmed that he will file the complaint within days on behalf of the teen, Trent Brewer, Jr., in federal district court.
Buckman, according to a 2002 Philadelphia Inquirer article, "has emerged as one of the region's most prominent civil rights lawyers and a national expert on racial profiling." In 1996, in State v. Soto, the article continued, "Buckman was part of a legal team that convinced a Superior Court judge in Gloucester County that state troopers were targeting minorities for traffic stops and searches."
And the Inquirer noted, "the landmark ruling–the first in the country to recognize racial profiling as a problem–led to U. S. Justice Department oversight of all New Jersey Turnpike stops and changes in other states."
Before the night Brewer was allegedly beaten–on January 27, 2012–he had not had any prior contact with law enforcement, much less warnings for minor infractions. Brewer, who high school teachers often compliment for good behavior, is also known community-wide for quiet, respectful conduct.
Yet Brewer, many African Americans insist, isn't the only black victim of egregious police brutality in this seaside, gambling resort promoted for nearly a century as "the nation's playground. Instead, they charge, he is simply one of the latest victims.
Given early coverage by print and electronic news media, Brewer's alleged beating is perhaps the most highly publicized such incident seen in Atlantic City and the surrounding area in many years.
Determined efforts by Brewer's mother, Andrea Gray, to "seek justice" for what she describes as "a vicious police attack," has also played a major role in keeping her son in the public eye.
Gray continues to shine a spotlight on what she said was "a brutal police assault on a defenseless child." She’s received immeasurable support from New Jersey civil rights advocate Terence Jones and Steven Young, the president of the National Action Network's South Jersey chapter,
Meanwhile, news coverage of the demonstrations, rallies and town hall meetings dramatizing Brewer's plight have raised his name recognition well beyond that of blacks who have charged police officers with egregious brutality in recent years.
Young told BlackAmericaWeb that the "Trent Brewer case has a great deal of national significance because it's rooted in the same racial profiling that afflicts African American young men throughout Atlantic City, Atlantic County, the state of New Jersey and the nation."
Unlike the Trayvon Martin case, which continues to arrest the nation's attention, Young said, "several witnesses saw the brutal assault on Trent Brewer and photographed it on their cell phones." Moreover, Young added, "Trent Brewer, although he was badly beaten, is alive to testify about the beating and tell his story."
Since mid-February, Jones has helped guide Gray's efforts to hold Mayor Lorenzo Langford, city council members and police chief Ernest Jubilee accountable for the officers' alleged actions. He became aware of the alleged beating by Florida-based Policeabuse.com.
Gray, a resourceful assistant in the Pleasantville, New Jersey, Public Library, utilized the Internet in her quest "for justice for my son." She told BlackAmericaWeb.com that her search led to Policeabuse.com, founded by Diop Kamali (formerly Don Jackson), once a Hawthorne, California, policeman and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy.
Located in northern Florida, the organization offers counseling, guidance and referral services to victims of police brutality. Typically these victims are poor, struggling families, blacks and other minorities.
Kamali's profile as a fearless foe of police brutality was raised by a series of nationally televised "stings" designed to tape officers' "lawless acts of brutality." Network reporters and camera crews captured several instances of such egregious treatment, the first one in Long Beach, California.
Kamali's journey as an agitator for justice was spurred by the brutal beating inflicted on his aging, ailing father by "brother officers" in 1987.
Several white officers–at gun point–forced his father, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy returning from Rialto with his pregnant daughter and her small children–to exit his SUV. The elder Jackson begged the officers to reach into his pocket and retrieve his Sheriff's Deputy's identification.
The officers ignored his offer to pull photo identification out of his pocket and to show it to them.
While his helpless, horrified daughter and the children looked on, the officers pummeled the elder Jackson, who had survived heart surgery and wore a protective kidney device.
Kamali retired from both departments in 1989.
Now, as a staunch advocate for victims of police brutality, he referred Gray to Richard Rivera, another former police officer who defends and supports victims of police brutality. Rivera, in turn, contacted Jones and asked him to investigate what appeared to be a wanton attack on Brewer.
Jones told BlackAmericaWeb.com that he "first interviewed eye witnesses who attested to the beating and photographed it on their cell phones." Within days after his interviews, Jones “requested a formal investigation into the 'alleged misconduct' of Police Chief Ernest Jubilee and Deputy Chief Henry White, Sr."
Attorney Buckman declined to discuss his federal complaint on Brewer's behalf. In it, however, he alleges that late on January 27, 2012, the four officers–three whites and one black–attacked and stomped Brewer after he asked the black officer, "who are you?"