Long Island man brutalized by police for ‘illegal right turn’

Mass uprisings since the murder of George Floyd have  reignited calls for justice in previous cases of police brutality. One such case is that of Rondese Hilton-Jones in Long Island. Hilton-Jones was simply driving home when police officers followed his vehicle allegedly for a traffic violation, then brutally attacked him and invented false charges later disproven by medical evidence. Below, we share Hilton-Jones’ story of this assault and demand justice as he pursues a civil suit against the police who attacked him.  

On May 28, 2018, Hilton-Jones was leaving a Family Dollar and began driving back to his home, when he spotted an unmarked SUV following him everywhere. When he pulled over, two plain-clothes police officers emerged from the SUV and began to approach Jones’s vehicle. 

One officer went to the driver’s side and asked Hilton-Jones where he was “rushing off to,” and for his license and registration. As Hilton-Jones reached into his gym shorts pocket to retrieve his documentation, one of the officers began to yell, “What the fuck are you doing, get out of the car!” Before Jones could react, he was forced out of his car by the officers, had his arm put behind his back, and was slammed into the vehicle. 

Attacked by police, Jones ran for his life

At no point did the officers inform Hilton-Jones that he was under arrest. Despite having Hilton-Jones restrained, one of the officers began to attack Hilton-Jones, hitting him over the head. It was at this point that Hilton-Jones, fearing for his life, attempted to escape. Hilton-Jones started running from the police, leaving his car behind, while they threatened to shoot him. He jumped over a fence, and sat up against a nearby shed in an attempt to calm down so he could process what had just occurred. 

Eventually the officers with their guns drawn found him lying on the ground. At this point, an estimate of eight officers arrived on the scene, completely overwhelming Hilton-Jones. While prone on the ground Jones begged the officers, “Don’t shoot.” When Hilton-Jones was handcuffed, officers jumped on him. The officers then began to brutalize the completely restrained Jones: whipping him, tasing him, and choking him, even going so far as to take off his shoes so that they could tase his feet.

While this was happening, the officers called Hilton-Jones a racial slur and said he wouldn’t “run anymore.” Hilton-Jones was left with a gash on his head and blood on his face, obscuring his vision.  Hilton-Jones was eventually sent to a hospital by way of ambulance, where the officers who had beaten Jones began to boast about what they had done. 

Victim put on trial

Hilton-Jones’ case later went to trial. According to the officers, the alleged crime that motivated officers to follow Hilton-Jones and carry out his brutal arrest and attack was nothing more than an “illegal right turn.” 

Police boldly attempted to cover up their attack before and during the trial, going so far as to claim Hilton-Jones had suffered no injuries despite receiving stitches for his wounds. Knowing what they had done was a violation of the law, the officers got rid of any evidence, including Hilton-Jones’s shirt and socks. 

Ironically, “tampering evidence” was added as a charge when officers boldly claimed that Hilton-Jones had swallowed a bag of cocaine. However, this was easily disproved by a stomach X-ray that Jones received at Northwell Hospital. A jury ruled Jones not guilty of this charge.

A further charge of resisting arrest was added given Hilton-Jones attempted to escape this brutal attack and save his own life. The jury did not find Jones guilty of this charge, asking the judge, “Is running out of fear for your life considered resisting arrest?” 

Although Hilton-Jones was never formally arrested at the time, and the jury was under the impression that Hilton-Jones ran out of genuine fear for his life, the judge pressured the jury into coming to a guilty verdict, and Hilton-Jones was sentenced to 30 days of probation.

Pattern of racist police brutality in Long Island

This blatant abuse of power on the part of the officers, as well as their unapologetic racism, is sadly nothing new. Police officers in Nassau County, LI, have a history of this sort of behavior, as shown by the treatment of Matthew Felix, a 19 year-old Black man who was killed by Nassau Police Department in Queens, New York (violating the law by following Felix outside of their jurisdiction) earlier this year on Feb. 25.

Homeless activist Devon Toney was recently beaten and arrested in an act of political intimidation. 

 In a related matter, Nassau police dragged their feet when Jennifer McLeggan, a 39-year-old Black single mother, reported she had been harassed by her neighbors since moving to her home in 2017. Nassau police failed to act on on this complaint until very recently, after intense pressure from the public.

Hilton-Jones files suit against the police

Hilton-Jones is not done fighting. He is currently appealing the charges of resisting arrest and has taken up a civil suit against the police. Hilton-Jones has lived in fear of the police ever since this incident, and yet he still has the strength and courage to fight so that he can live in peace. Like Hilton-Jones, we must have the strength and courage to continue our struggle against the systems of oppression such as the capitalist police, so that no one will have to experience brutality like this ever again.

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