WATCH: Dashcam Captures New Jersey Man’s Altercation With Cops Hours Before Death

EDISON, New Jersey – A newly released video shows the struggle between Highland Park police and an Edison man hours before the 28-year-old died in the hospital last year.

Daniel Nagahama died in June 2016 at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick about three hours after police were called to South Fifth Avenue for reports of a man lying in the street.

Authorities said at the time Nagahama became “belligerent” and fought with police after the officers revived him.

The death of Nagahama became the subject a legal battle between the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Libertarians for Transparent Government, which won a lawsuit last year seeking the release of documents relating to the case.

None of the officers has been accused of any wrongdoing in Nagahama’s death.

In one of the police dash camera videos obtained by NJ Advance Media from Highland Park police, Nagahama can be seen flailing in the street as officers arrived just after 5 p.m.

A few minutes later, Nagahama can be seen standing, waving his arms and heard yelling, “Words! Words! I am good! Does that make you feel better?”

“Are you hurt?” one of the four officers asks after asking Nagahama to put his hands down.

In the videos, Nagahama can be heard and seen screaming at the officers during the 13-minute altercation, although much of what is said in the video cannot be made out.

When the officers attempt to cuff Nagahama, he fights and argues with the officers for nearly three minutes. At one point an officer pulls his pepper spray, but he doesn’t appear to spray Nagahama.

Moments later, Nagahama falls to the ground next to the cruiser with the officers and is out of frame. An ambulance arrives a few minutes later and Nagahama is taken away cuffed, on a stretcher.

The use-of-force forms say that officers used compliance holds as well as hands and fists to arrest Nagahama. One of the officers used pepper spray during the incident, although the videos do not capture that.

Nagahama is listed on all the forms as “under the influence.”

A press release from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office issued after the altercation said Nagahama “was not placed under arrest, but was taken to the hospital by rescue workers.”

The use-of-force forms filed by the officers, which are required under state Attorney General’s guidelines after any incident of force, check a box listing Nagahama as arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct. The four forms were signed electronically, according to Lt. Thomas Hammill.

In response to questions about the discrepancy between the press release and the use-of-force forms Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said, “Nagahama was undergoing a mental crisis, and was not cooperative, he was placed in handcuffs for his safety, as well as that of the officers.”

“He was transported to the hospital where he continued to be combative with police and hospital staff. Once calmed down, the handcuffs were removed and the police left the hospital with Mr. Nagahama under hospital’s care,” Carey said in the emailed statement. “Mr. Nagahama passed away later. Mr. Nagahama was never charged with any crime. Therefore, while Mr. Nagahama was indeed restrained, handcuffed and transported from the scene to the hospital, he was not placed under formal arrest. The UFRs [use-of-force forms] which indicate an arrest, were prepared in anticipation of later charging Mr. Nagahama with a petty disorderly persons offense.”


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 4089 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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  • LawMom3

    I don’t see any evidence of abuse or ill treatment by the cops of this man. If he was under the influence of something that’s probably what killed him.

  • RyGuy18

    I don’t see a problem here. Their actions looked justified to me.

  • highlanderjuan

    Never, never, send cops to help someone who is in a medical emergency. Cops only know how to use force and violence on the people – they have no medical training and invariably only hurt people. If cops were ‘forced’ to be paramedics for five years before becoming cops, and if cops were not armed, the 100 civilian deaths by cops per month figure would drop precipitously. America has armed cops, and we suffer about 1,200 deaths via police misconduct every year. Countries like Norway have unarmed police and have no civilian deaths from their police.

    Government is always the use of force and violence by one man to control another man. In America, as in israel, cops are just the pointy end of that ‘control everyone’ spear. Cops are just plantation guards – they are not peace keepers at any level.

    The only peaceful, long term solution to police misconduct is to arm the citizens so that they can protect themselves, and then disband the police. I have no problem with police detectives and with CSI units, both of which are used to solve actual crimes, but the armed cops that patrol the streets are a HUGE problem in America, especially since so many police are now israeli trained. The civilian deaths by cops must stop.

  • John Medina

    IT is with great dismay, ignorance and a delusional mind that anyone can justify four armed men against one man or woman, to think that someone or anyone for that matter has the right to put their hands on another living breathing flesh blood person is ridiculous. Police is just another term for policy which belongs to a corporation and being policed is the same shit as being occupied meaning their not here to help the people but to make money from their arrest , then incarceration, parole, and probation.

    We really need as a people is to research and look up words to better clarify what they actually mean then and only then will we gain power by understanding of how this system really functions. For you see we need to be the majority and not the minority look those two words up and understand both there true meanings.

    • Jody Marlow

      Really, have you ever tried to restrain a violent person? It will take several people to restrain a violent person safely. From what we or I could see he was taken to the hospital for evaluation and he didn’t look hurt when he was strapped down.