FRANKLIN TWP. — A 50-year-old Franklin Township woman has been accused of attacking two police officers while she was being arrested last week for hindering the apprehension of her son, according to court papers.
But an activist group is claiming Deborah A. Thomas is the victim of police brutality and excessive force, alleging a police officer body-slammed her and repeatedly punched her in the face and body.
Authorities said they visited Thomas’ Park Street home at about 8:20 p.m. on April 23 after being told Thomas’ son had committed a sexual assault.
Thomas told authorities her teenage son wasn’t home and demanded they produce a search warrant before checking her residence, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office said in a news release.
While a search warrant was being obtained, officers saw the son exit a second-floor window and climb onto a roof above the first floor, the prosecutor’s office said. Officers entered the home and brought the teen back inside through the window, according to the prosecutor’s office.
When officers were escorting the son down a staircase, Thomas removed a cell phone from her son’s pocket, according to an affidavit filed today in Superior Court. An officer grabbed her arm and told her to hand it over, according to the affidavit.
While authorities were later executing the search warrant, they told Thomas she was under arrest for hindering apprehension, the affidavit states. But, the prosecutor’s office said, she “refused to comply with officers’ orders.”
As they attempted to handcuff her, Thomas kicked Franklin Police Officer Brian Quigley and punched Jeffrey VanderGoot, a detective with the prosecutor’s office, the affidavit states. Thomas also tried to bite VanderGoot, the affidavit states. She was ultimately subdued and placed under arrest, authorities said.
Thomas was charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and hindering apprehension. She was released after posting bail.
But a different version was presented in a statement released Monday by the “Creating Our Own Leaders” organization, or C.O.O.L. The statement identifies Thomas as a “cancer patient” and a member of the non-profit organization, which is based in the Franklin and New Brunswick areas.
The C.O.O.L. statement claims Thomas’ son asked a police officer if his mother could have the cell phone and the officer gestured for her to take it. But as Thomas attempted to do so, another officer tackled her, “dragging her across the floor onto the couch,” the statement reads.
Soon after, police officers rushed into her home and began searching, according to the group’s statement. Thomas repeatedly asked to see a warrant, but no officer could produce one, the statement reads.
When Thomas questioned why an officer was going to her bedroom, “the officer then picked Mrs. Thomas up and body slammed her down, repeatedly punching her in the face and body as Mrs. Thomas screamed for him to stop and repeatedly telling the officer she was a cancer patient and he was hurting her,” according to the C.O.O.L. statement.
According to its website, C.O.O.L. was “created as a response to an outcry for help from local communities that has been devastated by violence and lack of leadership.”
Capt. Jack Bennett, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, declined to comment on the C.O.O.L. statement.
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