Using pepper spray to subdue him, Campus Police arrested a College student on Sunday, Sept. 2, after he allegedly hit an officer in the head with his elbow and resisted arrest.
A Campus Police officer encountered Jonathan Waltz, sophomore open options science major, staggering in a drunken state near Parking Lot 17 at about 4 a.m. the morning of Sept. 2, according to Casey DeBlasio, public information officer for the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
The officer reportedly attempted to convince Waltz to seek medical attention, calling for assistance. But Waltz signed two “Refusal of Medical Attention” forms, one for the Lions’ EMS squad and one for the Ewing EMS squad.
At this point, an officer took Waltz to Campus Police headquarters to await the arrival of family members who had been called to pick him up.
However, while he was initially reported to be non-threatening, police allege that Waltz became violent when family members arrived at about 5 a.m, as he demanded that he be allowed to leave on his own.
According to a complaint submitted to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office by Campus Police, Waltz repeatedly used his elbow to hit Patrolman James Lopez in the head and body, at which point police sprayed an aerosol pepper spray in his face to subdue him.
“He was being restrained for his own safety,” DeBlasio said. Lt. James Lopez (no relation) said while it is rare that a student is charged with assault against a police officer on the College’s campus, it is not unheard of.
“We’ve had to use pepper spray before, but it isn’t often that we do,” Lt. Lopez said.
Pepper spray, a non-lethal inflammatory chemical agent often used in riot control, irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain and temporary blindness when sprayed in the face of an attacker and can also cause a burning sensation on the skin. According to medical studies, these effects usually wear off in 45 to 60 minutes.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s “Use of Force Policy” defines pepper spray as a “mechanical force” and instructs that police officers may use such mechanical force “to protect (an) officer, or a third party, from unlawful force.”
“We follow the Attorney General’s guidelines,” Lt. Lopez said.
Police charged Waltz with one count of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and one count of resisting arrest.
Waltz gave no comment when reached by telephone.