Long Branch, NJ – It was a normal day for the Montes family, who often likes to spend their days enjoying the beautiful weather on their porch on Morris Avenue. But the family say the melodious day would quickly turn into a nightmare after being approached by Long Branch police officers – a day they say has now turned their joys into fears when they simply walk outside the house. The traumatic encounter prompted the Montes family to lodge a complaint against the Long Branch Police Department prompting an internal affairs probe.
On October 17th, 2017, Raheem Montes, his brother and two friends were arrested by Long Branch police for allegedly interfering with an arrest. Raheem’s brother and his two friends are juveniles. What sparked the complaint and internal affairs investigation is what was captured on video by a witness. The witness says she posted the video on Facebook in disbelief of what she saw that day. The video has now gained thousands of views and various opinions. However, the Montes family and witnesses say the manner in which the incident was played out was simply abuse. An officer can be seen approaching Raheem Montes in what the family says was in an “aggressive” manner, “throwing him to the ground” alleging excessive force. The family has also claimed a day after the incident, the Long Branch police had a car sitting across the street from their home, making the family feel scared to walk outside.
Although the internal affairs investigation is ongoing, a spokesperson for the Long Branch Police Department has come forward stating the police officers’ actions seem to be “warranted”. Acting Police Chief Jason Roebuk said Raheem Montes and the others were resisting arrest, a claim the Montes family vehemently denies. All involved have been charged with obstruction of justice and resisting arrest.
The family lodged the verbal complaint against the police department with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. Roebuck said the prosecutor’s office sent the complaint back to their Internal Affairs Office to investigate after finding “no criminal wrongdoing to pursue.”
In effort for this issue to not be swept under the rug, the Montes family contacted Unheard Voices to tell their version of the incident. It is confirmed by both police and the Montes family, Raheem, brother, and two friends were approached by the officers after they were concluding another investigation across the street from their Morris Avenue home. But what becomes conflicting is the reason why they were arrested, the manner in which they were arrested, the handling of juveniles, and a pattern Long Branch residents seem to be noticing in their community. Last year, we reported two viral incidents involving Long Branch police officers, alleging harassment and police brutality. While some members of the community expressed they have profound respect for the department, they have also become worrisome about the incidents they continue to hear about or see.
In a climate where police relations combined with race relations are at an all-time high, it is important to create a healthy dialogue and a space that gives a chance for people to be heard. Unfortunately, mainstream journalism has often exhibited the narrative of being guilty until proven innocent. It is our plight to allow the unheard voices to tell their stories as well.
Watch the video below as the Montes family shares their story in their plight towards justice: