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June 10, 2020

South Jersey cop unjustly pepper sprayed two people, prosecutors allege

Woodlynne officer, 31, has worked for nine police departments

Investigations Police
Woodlynne police officer pepper spray Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

A Woodlynne police officer has been suspended without pay and charged with two counts of simple assault for allegedly using pepper spray on two individuals without being provoked.

A South Jersey police officer faces criminal charges for allegedly using pepper spray on two people without being provoked. 

Ryan Dubiel, 31, of the Woodlynne Police Department, has been charged with two counts of simple assault, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office announced Wednesday. 

Video footage shows that two people were not resisting arrest or attempting to harm anyone when the pepper spray was deployed against them on June 4. Additional footage from Dubiel's body camera will be made available Thursday, prosecutors said. 

Dubiel, of Wenonah, Gloucester County, has been suspended without pay. He has been with Woodlynne police for 10 months after previously serving with eight other police departments during his career, prosecutors said. 

The charges come against a backdrop of nationwide protests demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism. The demonstrations were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police. Former officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, was charged with second-degree murder. Three other former officers have been with aiding and abetting murder.

Video footage of the incident involving Dubiel can be seen below:

"Our Special Prosecutions Unit received the Internal Affairs complaint against Dubiel on June 5 and immediately began collecting all of the evidence to conduct a thorough and impartial review of the complaint," acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer said in a statement. "After careful review, it was clear Dubiel’s actions are not consistent with the state of New Jersey use-of-force policy."

The charges filed against Dubiel were made in consultation with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a statement commending Mayer for filing charges, saying Dubiel's use of force was "appalling." He called for the Police Training Commission to institute a statewide licensing program that would require officers to meet "baseline standards of professionalism." A licensing program would prevent problematic officers from being passed from department to department. 

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