“You gotta clap when he comes out, clap!,” the crowd of 50 to 60 people chanted, gathered outside the corrections entrance on the side of the Bronx Supreme Court Criminal Division on Tuesday morning.
The group was waiting for Jateik Reed, 19, who was released on bail, after he had been picked up in the 42nd Precinct on marijuana and cocaine possession charges on Jan. 26. Neighbors and witnesses said they saw four cops beat him with batons. Jateik denies he had any drugs on him.
“He was beaten in a most unfathomable fashion,” said Gidion Oliver, Jateik’s defense attorney from the Legal Aid Society, speaking to reporters after the court adjourned.
The police, however, say Reed resisted arrest. The prosecution indicated that the teen has outstanding robbery and assault charges and petitioned the court to increase his bail by another $30,000. Oliver and his client denied the charges, maintaining that they were tacked on the day after Jateik was beaten. The judge struck down the application for an increase and kept Jateik’s bail at $10,000 cash or $30,000 bond. An anonymous donor footed the $10,001.00 bill for Jateik’s release.
The crowd patiently waited until about 2 p.m., when Jateik’s attorney told Jateik’s father to pull his car around the back and get ready for a homecoming. “I am so happy you don’t even know!,” Jateik’s mother, Schuan Reed, exclaimed outside the exit.
The excitement about Jateik’s release has not clouded the somber reality that young people like Jateik face in the context of escalating tensions between the police and working class neighborhoods of color in New York City. While the NYPD cites the need to step up intervention and surveillance of communities like the 47th Precinct of the Bronx to curb violence, youth like Jateik live in a“target area” for the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk policy, where officers can randomly stop people based on suspicion of carrying drugs or weapons.
“His four-year-old brother cries for him,” said Jateik’s mother. She said she tried to keep the harsh reality from this youngest son, Jayaire, but that he could still sense what was going on. “Kids still know what’s going on. They feel the tension,” she said.
After Jateik was arrested and witnesses saw the officers continuing to beat him in the van, his mother, worried for her son’s safety, took Jayeire and Jateik’s other brother Jashawn, 17, to the 42nd Precinct to speak to the captain. She says she and and Jashawn were harassed by officers, and they were not allowed to speak to the captain. The precinct has not yet replied to comment on this incident.
Jateik’s mother says she’s been so shaken that she had to turn off the videos of her son’s beating that were posted on youtube. “I couldn’t watch the rest of it,” she said.
When Schuan went to visit him at Riker’s Island correctional facility, Jateik told his mother that he has had nightmares that the officers will come back to kill him. They hugged goodbye after visiting time was up. “He wouldn’t let me go,” she said.
At Jateik’s arraignment on Feb. 1, his mother cried when she saw his injuries. He had four stitches in his arm and in the head, and his back was black and blue. Schuan was also concerned that Jateik had not received proper medical care while in custody.
On the same day, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly put the four cops on desk duty and initiated an Internal Affairs Bureau investigation. Melvin Hernandez, assistant to the public information at the district attorney’s office, confirmed the internal police investigation of the beating but would not comment further. The NYPD’s Department of Public Information has not yet replied to requests for any further comments as to how they are proceeding with the investigation.
Meanwhile, the courtroom, filled to capacity, was packed on Tuesday with family, supporters, and clergy members. Both Jateik’s aunt, Latifah Reed, and father, Bernard Walker, are Baptist ministers. Patrician Edwards, a minister at the Gosemite Baptist Church on Prospect Avenue, said that Jateik came to church regularly and sang with his brother in the choir.
Walker explained that Jateik was on the way to meet him in order to register for an alternative school the day he was arrested. Both of Jateik’s parents are concerned that this arrest may hinder his enrollment, and hope that the school will understand the circumstances. While Walker knows his son isn’t perfect, he insisted that Jateik wanted to turn his life around. “He wants to get out of the community,” Walker said, meaning out of a rough neighborhood. “When he gets out, I want to keep him away from bad influences. I want to make sure he gets back and forth to court and get him back in school.”
His mother said that while Jateik may have been in trouble before, he is innocent of the robbery and assault charges, citing that he has an alibi for the day the crimes occurred. “Even if he did do these other crimes, which I know he didn’t, that does not justify the beating he received,” Jateik’s mother said. “The police need to be retrained.”
As to whether this unfortunate situation has inspired her to become more active in the community, Jateik’s mother said yes, definitely. “I’ve heard of these things going on in our community all the time. I’m just sorry that it took this to happen to see what’s what. I’ll be out there,” she said. “I only pray that the truth comes out.”
As the hour of Jateik’s release approached, his mother and aunt choked up, speaking to a small group of community members and clergy surrounding them.
“When he gets out, I’m going to feed him! Doctor him up. He can have anything he wants. I’ll take him out,” his mother said.
Jateik came out of the side door in a flash of orange, still in his orange prison suit. Cameras snapped, and in an instant, Jateik was in the SUV, reunited with his family, hugging his mother. He reappeared briefly to thank everyone for their support. After a number of flashes went off to capture the moment, a man stepped up to the car and said to Jateik, “Now get your rest. You still have a lot to do. The struggle ain’t over.”
In fact, the release is just the beginning of Jateik’s journey into the legal system. Jateik is due to reappear in court on Feb. 24 for the robbery and on March 17 for assault. “I hope justice prevails,” his mother said.