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South Jersey cop charged with hitting girl, 13

Encounter last month was recorded by police body-cam video

Gloucester Township police body-cam image of police officer arresting 13-year-old girl last month. Officer John Flinn was charged with simple assault for striking the girl twice in the head during the arrest.
Gloucester Township police body-cam image of police officer arresting 13-year-old girl last month. Officer John Flinn was charged with simple assault for striking the girl twice in the head during the arrest.Read moreCamden County Prosecutor's Office

A 27-year-old Gloucester Township police officer has been charged with simple assault for striking a 13-year-old girl during an incident last month, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office announced Friday.

The incident happened on March 8, after John Flinn, who has been with the Gloucester Township Police Department since 2015,  and other officers responding to a report of a disturbance encountered the girl.

"The juvenile complied with police instruction and allowed Flinn to handcuff her when he struck her twice on the side of the face causing her to cry out in pain," the prosecutor's office said in a news release. The incident was recorded by the officers' body cameras. The girl was taken to a local hospital for evaluation and she was not charged with any crime.

A video made available Friday by the prosecutor's office shows police officers responding to what appears to be a facility with an office and the girl is struggling with adults trying to restrian her. The officers grab her and force her face down into a pile of what appears to be a winter jacket, a box, and a large rubber ball. The girl stops moving her body and the officer appears to be trying to bend her right arm behind her back to handcuff her when he twice strikes the right side of her face and right ear with an open hand. The girls cries out and the officer then presses her head down, puts a knee into back, and orders her to "stop resisting," to which she replies, "I'm not."

Flinn initially was placed on administrative leave while the incident was investigated, and suspended on March 15, said Gloucester Township Police Chief Harry Earle in a message to the community Saturday. Earle said he referred the matter to the prosecutor's office.

"I am grateful of the relationship that our officers have built with the community, and I am very confident that this incident will in no way will[sic] damage that relationship," Earle said in his statement.  "Our community members should rest assured that this incident was uncovered internally through our own checks and balances system and was not the result of a civilian complaint."

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