Federal authorities on Tuesday announced the indictment of a Paterson police officer who is accused of repeatedly punching a man during a video-recorded incident in South Paterson in 2020, one of 11 city cops convicted or charged with crimes since 2018.
The officer in Tuesday’s indictment, 29-year-old Kevin Patino, has been on paid leave since last spring, when he was arrested along with his partner, Officer Kendry Tineo-Restituyo.
Those arrests prompted the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office to take oversight of the Paterson Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division, the group that’s supposed to investigate alleged wrongdoing by city cops.
But the leader of Paterson’s Black Lives Matter group, Zellie Thomas, said Tuesday that the county oversight was not a strong enough measure, considering the number of police corruption cases in the city. Thomas said the Paterson Police Department needs intervention by the federal government.
“We’re not talking about one cop or two cops,” Thomas said. “We’re talking about 11 police officers.”
When asked if he thought intervention was needed, Mayor Andre Sayegh said the Police Department "has made strides in the areas of police accountability and installing tools to build trust."
"My administration will continue to hold officers who violate the law accountable," he added.
Patino was charged with a civil rights crime for alleged use of “unreasonable force” against the man he beat and trying to cover up the crime with a false police report.
“Officer Patino's actions were appropriate under the circumstances and a response to the actions of the person he sought to arrest,” said his lawyer, Anthony J. Iacullo. “We are confident that Officer Patino will be exonerated of all charges.”
The man beaten, then-19-year-old Osamah Alsaidi, has said he tried to report the assault to Paterson police officers but was ignored. Alsaidi then posted the video of the attack on social media, and federal authorities filed charges against the two cops several months after that.
Tineo-Restituyo has not been indicted.
Alsaidi has hired a lawyer to pursue a lawsuit against the city.
“While we are pleased to see that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has indicted this officer for his vicious, unprovoked attack on our client and then lying about it, it is a sad day for the people of Paterson,” said his attorney, Diego Navas.
“The number of city police officers who have recently faced or are facing criminal charges for their actions while on duty is astounding and unacceptable,” Navas added. “The citizens of this great city deserve better.”
The United States Attorney’s Office has said Alsaidi was walking with his hands in his pockets when the two cops confronted him. “When the victim attempted to separate himself, Patino struck the victim in the face and body numerous times,” federal authorities said.
The reports filed by Patino and his partner contained “numerous false statements,” the U.S. attorney said.
“For instance,” federal authorities said in a press release last spring, “the police report falsely stated that the victim had walked toward the officers ‘screaming profanities’ and ‘acting belligerent’ and that the victim had struck Patino with a closed fist in the chest. None of this was true. The report also omitted the fact that Patino and Tineo-Restituyo continued to strike the victim after the victim was on the ground.”
City records have shown that Patino filed 15 reports documenting his use of force during interactions with the public during the three years before the Alsaidi incident, including 12 cases in which he struck people with his hands or fist.
In the decade before this incident, the Paterson’s Internal Affairs Division found wrongdoing by city police officers in nine out of 283 complaints over alleged excessive force.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Paterson NJ police officer indicted after video of beating