The Guardian November 15, 2000


New Jersey police trial begins

by Amina Baraka

Jury selection in the trial of five Orange, New Jersey police officers 
began on October 31. Thomas Smith, 37; Brian Smith, 30, Andrew Garth, 31; 
Tyrone Payton, 34; and Paul Carpinteri Jr, 36, are charged with conspiring 
to deprive Earl Faison of his civil rights by causing him bodily injury 
through the use of excessive force.

Faison, a 27-year-old rap artist and father of three, died while in police 
custody April 11, 1999. His arrest came during a manhunt for the murderer 
of another Orange police officer, Joyce Carnegie.

Later another man, Condell Woodson, confessed to the killing and is now 
serving a life sentence. Other police officers in the station house that 
night eventually implicated the five.

In June, FBI agents completed a 14-month investigation, which resulted in 
indictments against the five officers with the arrest of five veteran 
Orange Police officers.

A five count federal indictment charged that the officers, mistakenly 
believing they were punishing a cop killer, kicked, beat and pepper sprayed 
Faison, then lied about the incident to cover up their actions.

Although Faison died within an hour of being arrested, the indictment does 
not charge the officers with causing his death, only with violating his 
civil rights.

In response to defence concerns, District Court Judge John Lifland ordered 
that any reference to the actual death be deleted from the indictment 
because of its "inflammatory nature".

After two days of jury selection, six men and six women were chosen along 
with four alternates to hear the evidence during the trial, which is 
expected to last five to six weeks. The jury includes one Black man of the 
12 on the panel.

Patty Shwartz, a prosecutor, outlined the events leading up to Faison's 
death.

Three days after the murder of Carnegie an Orange police officer pulled 
over a cab in which Faison was riding. At that point, the prosecutor said, 
"Earl Faison made the tragic mistake of running".

Shwartz claimed that Faison was quickly chased down by the officer, subdued 
and handcuffed, but when other officers arrived on the scene, the violence 
began to escalate.

First she said, Payton kicked Faison in the head and then, along with 
Thomas Smith and Carpinteri, tossed him into a patrol car "like a rag doll" 
where Smith and Garth continued to beat him "as he lay helpless", 
handcuffed in the rear seat.

Then, Shwartz said, Faison was taken to a secluded entrance of police 
headquarters where he was thrown into a stairwell while Payton, who had a 
close relationship with Carnegie, pulled his gun and pointed it at Faison's 
head, shouting, "Why'd you have to kill her?"

Payton took cash from Faison's pocket, held it in the air and said "Give 
this to Joyce's mom", before Brian Smith kneeled down and blasted Faison 
with pepper spray. Faison began gasping for air. By the time medical help 
arrived, he had no pulse.

The officers attempted to cover up their actions by falsifying police 
reports and lying to investigators. "This case is about a few officers who 
decided not to uphold the law, but to break the law."

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People's Weekly World

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