A local councilman accused of assaulting a police officer during a youth basketball game is speaking out, after he pressed charges of his own against the officer.
Walter Hudson, 33, of the Penns Grove school board is accused of attacking Officer George Maganaro during a youth basketball game at the Penns Grove Middle School back on July 10. NBC10 obtained surveillance video showing a man, who police identified as Hudson, tossing the officer to the ground as children ran to the opposite end of the school gym.
Witnesses told NBC10 that the ordeal began as several youth basketball teams were being dismissed. A large group of teens had gathered on school grounds, prompting officials to call police to break up the crowd. As officers tried to manage the crowd, Hudson allegedly interfered. When police warned Hudson to back off, he allegedly shoved Officer Maganaro to the ground and punched him.
"The officer advised him he was going to be arrested and that's when the altercation happened," said Penns Grove Police Chief Gary Doubledee, who added Maganaro was hospitalized with a torn labrum and had to be sedated.
Penns Grove Mayor John Washington along with Penns Grove councilwoman Jeanette Jackson were also charged for their alleged involvement in the attack. Mayor Washington allegedly grabbed Maganaro's left arm while he was trying to arrest Hudson. Washington was accused of obstructing the administration of law and was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer.
Nearly a month after the incident, Hudson not only maintains his innocence but also claims he was the real victim during the ordeal.
"It's been an ongoing situation with the Penns Grove Police Department," Hudson told NBC10 on Tuesday. "I did not assault the officer."
Hudson claims the altercation was the reesult of repeated harassement he's received from police after he stood up for a teenager who was killed while in police custody.
"They've been picking at him," said Hudson's mother Dorothy. "I don't know whether or not they are prejudice or if they've got something on him because he's a civil rights kind of person."
Hudson filed a criminal complaint against Maganaro, accusing the officer of engaging in a "course of alarming conduct with purpose to alarm and harass.
According to Hudson, Maganaro followed him the night before the fight at the gym as he left Penns Grove Middle School and went to Councilwoman Jackson's home. Hudson claims Maganaro pulled up to the home, confronted him and pointed a finger at him, gesturing as if he was shooting at him with a gun.
During the incident at the school gym on July 10, Hudson claims Maganaro kicked his leg and pushed him to the ground while calling him a "motherf*****." Hudson claims he suffered a bruise and intense shoulder pain as a result.
Hudson reported the allegations to both Mayor Washington as well as police Chief Gary Doubledee.
Maganaro is charged with harassment and simple assault due to the allegations against him. The officer hired civil and criminal defense attorneys.
"So far we're alleging in the civil case that during this confrontation, George suffered injuries which may be career ending injuries," said Maganaro's attorney Michael Miller.
Maganaro's criminal defense attorney also told NBC10 that audio recording from a police cruiser the night of July 10 will prove that his client is innocent.
The criminal charges against the officer are under review by the Atlantic County Prosecutor.