35-Year-Old Man Slashed Officer’s Face and Two Other Officers Fired at the Assailant
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TRENTON – The Attorney General’s Office today released video footage from two hotel surveillance cameras, Taser camera footage, and a 911 call related to an incident that took place on December 27, 2020 at a hotel in Clifton, N.J., during which Antwan Whitlock, 35, of Union Township, N.J., allegedly slashed a police officer in the face with a knife, and two other officers fired their service weapons at Whitlock. Mr. Whitlock, who was not hit by the gunfire, later stabbed himself in the chest during a subsequent encounter with police at the hotel, during which one officer deployed a Taser.
Mr. Whitlock has been charged with second-degree aggravated assault, third-degree aggravated assault, third-degree resisting arrest, and third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Those charges are being prosecuted by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.
Today’s recordings are being released pursuant to policies established by the Attorney General’s office in 2019 that are designed to promote the fair, impartial and transparent investigation of police use of force investigations.
At approximately 5:20 a.m. on Dec. 27, 2020, two officers from the Clifton Police Department responded to a report of Mr. Whitlock self-reporting that he was in crisis at the Howard Johnson Inn on Route 3 West. They were joined at the hotel by responding emergency medical technicians (EMTs) from the Clifton Fire Department and proceeded to a room on the fourth floor where Mr. Whitlock was staying. The officers attempted to communicate with Mr. Whitlock through the closed door of the room, and a third Clifton police officer arrived to assist them. Eventually the officers forced entry into the room.
Once the door was open, the officers had a brief interaction at the doorway with Mr. Whitlock, who was armed with two knives. One officer sprayed Mr. Whitlock with OC Spray. Mr. Whitlock exited the room and allegedly slashed one officer in the face in the hallway, at which time Sgt. David Roe and Officer Kevin Berdnik of the Clifton Police Department fired their 9mm service weapons in his direction. Mr. Whitlock ran down the hall and through a fire door; he remained in that area of the hotel, armed with the two knives.
The Passaic County SWAT Team responded to the hotel and located Mr. Whitlock in the fourth floor hallway. Shortly after 7 a.m., a SWAT team member, Officer Joseph DeGroot, fired a Taser at Mr. Whitlock, who then stabbed himself in the chest with a knife. Emergency medical treatment was rendered at the hotel and Mr. Whitlock was transported to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, where he underwent surgery and remains hospitalized. The officer who sustained a knife wound to his face was treated at St. Joseph’s and released.
Four video recordings and one audio recording are being released today. Two surveillance cameras in different hallways of the hotel captured video footage of the incident, including the police-involved shooting and the Taser deployment. Video footage from the Taser camera of Officer DeGroot is also being released, along with video footage from the Taser camera of a second officer who did not actually fire his Taser. The audio recording is a 911 call made by Mr. Whitlock that prompted the emergency response by police and EMTs. It also includes a follow-up call from the 911 operator to the hotel.
The recordings are posted online: Click here for recordings.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time.