Tasca's dashboard camera captured her as she attempted to stop two officers from beating an emotionally disturbed young man. Just days after the incident, she was told she was being suspended with pay. A year later, her trial is about to begin as the Bogota PD seeks to fire her.
In Bogota, officers control whether or not their dashboard camera rolls. Fortunately, when Officer Tasca responded to a call in April 2011, she clicked her unit "on." The black-and-white tape captures it all--a mother, Tara, screaming for police to stop punching her son on their front lawn. She had called to have her emotionally disturbed son Kyle taken to the hospital. Bogota police responded while waiting for the ambulance. Tasca was the sole officer on the road that day, so she called for back-up according to protocol. Ridgefield
Park police then sent two officers. Tasca had just completed her state-mandated training for working with emotionally disturbed citizens.
Tasca described what we see on the videotape: "The Ridgefield Park officer automatically charges and takes him down to the ground. I was quite shocked. As he's doing that, another Ridgefield Park officer flies to the scene in his car, jumps out and starts punching him in the head."
On the tape you can hear Tara, the mother, and Kyle, her son, screaming, "Why are you punching him?" and "Stop punching me!"
The two Ridgefield Park Sergeants are never heard refuting the claims that they punched the 22 year-old man as he was waiting for an ambulance.
Even worse, Kyle was never charged, nor arrested, for any offense. Tasca says it's because he never threatened, did not have a weapon, and indeed never resisted and was not violent. Eventually Tasca was able to pry the punching Ridgefield Park officer off Kyle, as seen in a picture taken by the Kyle's mother, who also later commended Tasca in a phone call.
The call came in to Tasca's answering machine and was kept on a recording: "Thank you Regina. I appreciate you standing up for him, for protecting him while the officer attacked him. I can't figure out what i would have done without you at the scene."
Catherine Elston is the attorney helping Tasca prepare for a week-long departmental trial. Elston is also a former police officer.
"This was excessive force used against an emotionally disturbed person," she said. "This was an unlawful tackle, this was a punching an emotionally disturbed person whose arms were pinned under his chest with his face pushed into the ground."
What happened next is so baffling to so many.
Tasca's voice began to waiver as she recounted the meeting with her superior officer:
"The next thing I know he asks me to turn over my weapon and be sent for a fitness for duty exam," she said.
Bogota PD, after hearing Tasca's story, believes she is psychologically incompetent to be a police officer, and she is being sent for testing. The Ridgefield Park Police officers seen tackling and punching an emotionally disturbed man waiting for an ambulance are never questioned. never interviewed by an Internal Affairs Investigator, and are still working the streets today.
Bogota Police chose to suspend Tasca, an 11-year veteran with numerous commendations. There are photographs from the hospital documenting the bruises on the 22-year-old's head, back, arms and wrists.