What to Know
Newly released body camera video shows Glassboro police officers pointing guns at two Rowan University students and placing them in cuffs.
The 2-plus hours of police footage shows one student questioning why he was arrested and the person who made the report explaining himself.
The officers were responding to a report of a gunman. They later determined the students were unarmed and released them, the school said.
More than two hours of police body camera footage has been released that shows the moments officers pointed their weapons at two unarmed Rowan University students and handcuffed them after responding to a report of a gunman. The footage also includes an interview with the person who called in the initial report that sparked the encounter, which has roiled the campus community.
"You all are about to find out that you stopped me for no reason," Altif Hassan, a senior from Trenton, New Jersey, says in the video as he sits cuffed in the back of a police vehicle.
Glassboro police released the video, parts of it blurred, in four parts, captured on 13 separate cameras, on the department's Facebook page late Tuesday night.
The videos show the arrest of Hassan and another student on the afternoon of Oct. 1.
Glassboro officers were investigating a shoplifting incident at a store in the Collegetown Shopping Center on North Delsea Drive that afternoon. During the investigation, a man approached the officers and claimed he had spotted a black male with "puffy hair" pointing a black handgun at a vehicle, police said. He told the officers the man then went into the driver's seat of a black Dodge Charger.
"Officer, you see that Charger right there? He just came out of the store with a gun in his hand," the man tells the officers in earlier body cam footage released by police.
Late Tuesday, police release blurred video of the same man explaining why he made the complaint.
"I'm not prejudice but when it fits, it fits," says the unidentified man, whose face is blurred in the newly released footage. "Black guy, racing cars sitting in front, coming out of a store with a gun laughing his head off."
"I thought he was gonna shoot at me," he said.
Police say they stopped the Dodge Charger in the area of North Campus Drive in the parking lot of Mimosa Hall at Rowan University around 5 p.m.
Hassan and Giovanna Roberson, a freshman from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, were inside the vehicle at the time.
“Being that it was believed that one of the occupants of the vehicle had a gun, police followed procedures and drew their weapons until all the occupants exited the vehicle and were searched,” a spokesperson for Rowan University wrote to students following the incident.
Previously released cellphone video of the incident shows at least three officers pointing their weapons at Hassan and Roberson.
The newly released footage shows the officers pointing their guns at the students and putting cuffs on each of them.
"I don't even want to speak, bro," Hassan says in the video. "You just had a gun out on me... you could have just took my life."
When asked to consent to a vehicle search, Hassan emphatically said "hell (expletive) yeah." He then mentioned that police won't find any weapon.
"You all are supposed to pulling over a Charger with a gun in it, you all just pulled over a Charger without a gun in it," an upset Hassan said while in police custody. "I don't understand, how are you doing your job?"
"I thought it was over," Hassan told NBC10 last week. "And they were about to shoot me in front of everybody on camera. Everybody was just gonna be replaying my death over and over again."
In the video, Hassan first steps out of the vehicle, raises his hands and walks backwards toward the police cruiser as the officers point their weapons at him. The officers then place him in handcuffs.
The officers then order Roberson to do the same and then place her in handcuffs as well. Roberson is also seen on the video in cuffs in the back of the police vehicle before police release her.
"It was really traumatizing and frightening," Roberson said last week. "The whole time I was scared for Tif. I was watching him back up and scared for myself as well."
The officers searched both students as well as their vehicle but did not find a weapon. Police say they then informed the students why the action was taken and they were let go.
"Officers have an obligation to investigate when this type of information is provided regarding a serious threat of an alleged armed subject in our community for the safety of all involved including the people that are subject of the investigation," Glassboro Police Chief Franklin S. Brown, Jr. wrote in a statement."
“I can’t keep quiet like my voice doesn’t matter,” Hassan wrote. “I’m pressing hard. If you believe in the cause, share it for the culture. Everyone gotta know this kind of harassment needs to stop.”
Hassan’s video went viral and sparked controversy online as critics questioned why police held the students at gunpoint. Hassan told NBC10 he wants police to change their procedure in light of the incident.
"We just want to be treated equally," Hassan said. "Just equal. Nothing more. Nothing less."
"The videos are being offered in the spirit of complete transparency and to demonstrate the Police Department’s compliance with appropriate protocols and training for dealing with this type of incident," Glassboro police said on its Facebook post.
Rowan University held a student forum last week to discuss the incident. Glassboro police are in the process of forming a committee with Rowan officials to bridge the divide between police and students, the department said.