Paterson Police conducted a drug investigation that culminated with a series of arrests on February 11, 2019. After a suspected transaction, police sought to arrest the driver of a car on the bridge at North Bridge Street. Unmarked police vehicles boxed the car in to prevent it from leaving and police sought to remove the driver of the car who failed to comply with their requests. Police used force to place the driver under arrest.
The encounter on the bridge garnered significant attention. Passersby gathered to observe the arrest. One of the people who gathered was Jahbed Malique. According to police, they ordered Mr. Malique to back up and he did. He recorded police for the entire encounter. Police charged Mr. Malique with the disorderly persons offense of Obstruction Administration of Law or Other Government Function.
At trial, the officers acknowledged that Mr. Malique backed up when asked, never used force or threatened anyone, and was arrested later on when he passed by close to an officer, but on the public sidewalk that had not been blocked off.
The municipal court found Mr. Malique guilty. He filed an appeal. Upon reviewing the evidence, the Superior Court Judge, Hon. Ronald B. Sokalski, J.S.C., determined that the State had failed to prove that Mr. Malique violated the law and found him not guilty.