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New Jersey Police Officer Indicted After Fatally Pepper-Spraying Man With Lung Disease



A New Jersey police officer faces indictment after fatally pepper-spraying a man who suffered from a respiratory illness.

“Officer Nicholas Piotrowski used excessive force while trying to subdue Joseph Ahr Sr., who was arguing with several officers on his porch and resisted their efforts to cuff him, state Attorney General Matthew Platkin said,” reported S.P. Sullivan. “‘Police officers are required to be measured in their use of force in every encounter, even under challenging conditions,’ Platkin said. ‘This officer resorted to using pepper spray during a confrontation with a civilian in a manner that was unnecessary and contrary to his training, mishandling a situation that could have concluded so much differently,'”

While Piotrowski faces general misconduct charges, he does not face charges “directly related” to the death in custody.

“Piotrowski was one of nine officers at the scene during the July 6, 2020, incident, which began when Ahr’s namesake son called 911 over a domestic dispute in which the father was not involved, according to authorities and the family’s civil complaint,” said the report. “When officers arrived, the elder Ahr answered the door and refused them entry, demanding to see a warrant, according to video footage made public last July by the state Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, which investigates all deaths involving law enforcement. After several minutes of arguing, a supervisor ordered officers to arrest Ahr, at which point several of them brought down Ahr on the porch steps. Police body camera footage shows Ahr struggling and exclaiming ‘I can’t breathe! For real!’ as officers pinned his arms behind his back.”

Piotrowski then pepper-sprayed him at close range in the face, and dismissed Ahr’s pleas that he only has one working lung. Another sergeant told him, “you’re fine, it’s just a bit of mace” and that he would be taken to the hospital. Ahr died on July 24, which the medical examiner attributed to “acute respiratory failure following the use of pepper spray during arrest of an individual with chronic pulmonary disease and COVID-19” and classified as a homicide.

The footage of the incident can be seen below:


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