Officials are investigating the death of a New Jersey man who died while in police custody Tuesday.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
"As many of you have already heard, earlier today a tragedy occurred involving Officers and a citizen," said Vineland Police Chief Timothy Codispoti. "Sadly, this call for service resulted in an “in–custody, non-shooting death” which is being investigated by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s office"
The man, identified as Phillip White, was arrested at a home on the 100 block of Grape Street in Vineland, New Jersey around 11 a.m. Tuesday. He died shortly after while in custody.
Witnesses told NBC10 officers were extremely physical with White after he was already restrained and unconscious on the street.
"They punched him, stomped him, kicked him and then they let the dog out of the car," said Ricardo Garcia. "The dog bit him on his face and around his body. There's no call for that. Once a man is handcuffed and unconscious, you should have stuck him in the patrol car and take him to the police station. Instead they decided to beat him right here."
A dog is heard barking on a police dispatch recording of the incident.
"118 West Grape," the dispatcher says in the recording. "Subject...hyperventilating. Officers out."
An officer is also heard on the recording.
"Slow all units down," the officer says. "Subject under...tried disarming me."
The Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office is currently investigating the incident. A spokesperson for the office told NBC10 White was being arrested but they haven't revealed why.
White's aunt, Valerie White, told NBC10 she is desperate for answers.
"Why, what he was doing, I don't know," she said. "I'm trying to get answers and closure now. He lived a street life but he was a human being. Bottom line."
While police have not yet released information regarding what led to the arrest or how White died, Chief Codispoti expressed his condolences for his family.
"Our sincere thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased and with the Officers involved," he said. " I ask that everyone allow time for our justice system to now investigate this matter to its truthful conclusion. The Vineland Police Department is cooperating with the prosecutor’s office and I urge anyone with information regarding this incident to contact the prosecutor’s office with your information. At this time updates regarding the progress of this investigation are being released through the prosecutor’s office."