An unconscious man was allegedly beaten and attacked by police and their K9 in Vineland, NJ, Tuesday, before dying in officer custody.
Local police have shared little information about the events leading up to the incident, including the actual cause of White’s death. They have claimed that Phillip White resisted arrest when officers approached him on the street. In an audio recording of the police dispatch, an unidentified man said, “Subject under…tried disarming me.”
An anonymous witness told CBS News that officers approached White when they saw him stumbling near a fence. According to the witness, White started yelling and kicking, before officers tackled him to the ground and unleashed a police K9 to subdue him.
Two other bystanders told a more graphic — and disturbing — story.
“They punched him, stomped him, kicked him, and then they let the dog out of the car. The dog bit him on his face and around his body. There’s no call for that. Once a man is handcuffed and unconscious, you should have stuck him in the patrol car and take him to the police station. Instead they decided to beat him right here,” alleges Ricardo Garcia, who watched the scene unfold.
A second witness, Agustin Ayala, agreed that White did resist arrest, but also noted that two officers had the suspect handcuffed on the ground. Ayala was worried about White’s well-being, and tried to intervene by asking the officers to stop what they were doing.
After the encounter, Phillip’s aunt, Valerie White, said, “I’m trying to get answers and closure now. He lived a street life but he was a human being. Bottom line.”
The Cumberland County Prosecutors Office is currently investigating White’s death. ThinkProgress reached out to the office for comment but did not immediately receive a reply.