What to Know
- Edward Cagney Mathews, 45, of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, was taken into police custody Monday evening after a large crowd of protesters surrounded his home.
- Mathews had initially been charged with bias intimidation and harassment after a woman reported him to police on Friday.
- Officials said Mathews will face additional charges of bias intimidation and assault after police viewed viral videos of him harassing, threatening and yelling racial slurs at neighbors.
A New Jersey man who police say was caught on camera harassing, threatening and yelling racial slurs at his neighbors was taken back into custody to face additional charges after community members protested outside his home.
On Friday, shortly before 8 p.m., a neighbor called police and accused Edward Cagney Mathews, 45, of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, of continuously harassing her.
After a police investigation, Mathews was charged with harassment and bias intimidation. His charges were placed on a summons by a municipal court judge to be heard at a future court appearance. He was then released from police custody on Friday.
“The Mount Laurel Police Department does not tolerate hate or bias intimidation in any form. This type of behavior is totally unacceptable,” a police spokesperson wrote. “We can assure our residents that incidents like this are thoroughly investigated and that those who commit such offenses will be held accountable for their actions.”
Over the weekend, videos circulated on Facebook showing a man, who police identified as Mathews, using racial slurs while arguing and threatening a man and a woman.
A woman who posted one of the videos accused Mathews of harassing her for more than a year.
Mathews also publicly states his address in the viral clip.
During a press conference Monday evening, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced that additional charges of bias intimidation and assault were filed against Mathews based on the video.
"I want to especially commend the victim who showed incredible restraint with somebody spewing awful, vile things in his face. Assaulting him," Coffina said. "That's the subject of the additional charge today. That was on video."
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A large crowd of protesters gathered outside Mathews’ Mount Laurel home Monday afternoon while police stood guard.
"People are out here because they're angry," Marcus Sibley of the Southern Burlington County NAACP said. "They felt they could say the most horrible thing you could say to a Black person and there would be no repercussions."
Coffina also said he understood why the protests took place.
"They had seen videos that weren't available to us on Friday night that were even worse than what we did have available to us on Friday night," Coffina said. "And the protesters had every right to be upset about that because this is despicable conduct."
Many of the protesters claimed neighbors had reported Mathews to police in the past but no actions were taken until Friday.
Mount Laurel Police Chief Stephen Riedener confirmed his department had received previous complaints about Mathews.
"He had been brought to court before but those charges were either dismissed or no probable cause was ever found," Chief Riedener said. "We had investigated him several times. But until this particular incident where the neighbors had video available from the ring cameras and things of that nature, we were finally able to get the evidence that we needed to actually charge him with the crimes he was committing."
During an interview with NBC10 on Monday, Mathews admitted to using racial slurs but denied being a racist.
"I've never been a racist," Mathews said. "I've made mistakes. Said racial slurs out of anger or being drunk. I may not be able to relate to communities of color but I am not a racist and I have the upmost respect for us as a community."
Mathews told NBC10 he lost his composure and regretted his words.
"I did not mean this," Mathews said. "It was a lapse of judgment at a moment at my weakest point and my anger got the best of me."
Ashley Gibbons, a neighbor who said both she and her mother were harassed by Mathews, didn't believe he was remorseful, however.
"It was coming to him," Gibbons said. "And I have no regrets of what happened today. None."
After hours of protest on Monday, police took Mathews out of his home and into custody around 7:30 p.m.
Members of the crowd cheered while some threw objects at the police vehicle as it left with Mathews inside. Several police officers in riot gear then tried to clear the crowd as more objects were thrown at them.
Chief Riedener said about 10 to 15 officers were sprayed with pepper spray and hit by bottles thrown at Mathews by members of the crowd. He also said there was damage to adjoining townhouses next to Mathews' home. Police remained at the scene Monday evening and Riedener said they would review body camera footage to identify anyone who caused property damage or attacked officers.
"On large part the protesters that were here were peaceful and they were actually working with us and we spoke to many of them to try to get them to cooperate with us so that we could keep everyone safe," Chief Riedener said. "And that was our goal from the minute we got here to make sure everyone was safe and our community was safe."
Mathews will remain at the Burlington County Jail until his first court appearance later this week.