Trenton, NJ, police pull man from car, break his nose, and search his vehicle for ‘aggressive behavior.’ Body cameras tell a different story.

PAR: Body camera caught cops lying, this is what happened when we asked police to explain

Michael Q. Banks was in his car one evening when a specialized crime unit of Trenton police suddenly pulled him from his vehicle and slammed him on the pavement, breaking his nose. Police proceeded to tear apart Banks’ car without his consent. Banks invoked his Fourth Amendment rights, but to no avail. Police later justified their search by claiming Banks had displayed “aggressive behavior” and given police a “startled look” upon being accosted. The crime rate of the neighborhood Banks was parked in was also used to justify police actions. One of the officers, Michael Gelton, was later responsible for shooting and paralyzing Jajuan Henderson.

Banks’s ordeal exemplifies how police departments treat poor communities and communities of color across the country, as well as the dangerous implications such tactics have on the erosion of Fourth Amendment rights. Police have used the high crime rates that often occur in poor neighborhoods to justify violent tactics that frequently result in civil rights violations. Yet police aggression has failed to have a measurable impact on local crime or its underlying causes of poverty and systemic neglect. Banks spoke with Police Accountability Report about his ordeal. A Trenton police spokesperson failed to appear for a previously scheduled interview with PAR.

Studio: Stephen Janis
Post-Production: Stephen Janis, Adam Coley


This transcript will be made available as soon as possible.

Host & Producer
Taya Graham is an award-winning investigative reporter who has covered U.S. politics, local government, and the criminal justice system. She is the host of TRNN’s “Police Accountability Report,” and producer and co-creator of the award-winning podcast “Truth and Reconciliation” on Baltimore’s NPR affiliate WYPR. She has written extensively for a variety of publications including the Afro American Newspaper, the oldest black-owned publication in the country, and was a frequent contributor to Morgan State Radio at a historic HBCU. She has also produced two documentaries, including the feature-length film “The Friendliest Town.” Although her reporting focuses on the criminal justice system and government accountability, she has provided on the ground coverage of presidential primaries and elections as well as local and state campaigns. Follow her on Twitter.

Host & Producer
Stephen Janis is an award winning investigative reporter turned documentary filmmaker. His first feature film, The Friendliest Town was distributed by Gravitas Ventures and won an award of distinction from The Impact Doc Film Festival, and a humanitarian award from The Indie Film Fest. He is the co-host and creator of The Police Accountability Report on The Real News Network, which has received more than 10,000,000 views on YouTube. His work as a reporter has been featured on a variety of national shows including the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries, Dead of Night on Investigation Discovery Channel, Relentless on NBC, and Sins of the City on TV One.

He has co-authored several books on policing, corruption, and the root causes of violence including Why Do We Kill: The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore and You Can’t Stop Murder: Truths about Policing in Baltimore and Beyond. He is also the co-host of the true crime podcast Land of the Unsolved. Prior to joining The Real News, Janis won three Capital Emmys for investigative series working as an investigative producer for WBFF. Follow him on Twitter.

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