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Security guard charged in attack on Black man at N.J. restaurant

NJ.com logo NJ.com 8/5/2021 Noah Cohen, nj.com

A private security guard working at a Deptford restaurant was charged on Wednesday with attacking a Black man during a confrontation at the eatery’s parking lot, authorities said.

Steven T. Rudy, 33, of Virginia, faces a charge of aggravated assault stemming from the July 29 incident at the Adelphia Restaurant on Clements Bridge Road, according to the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.

The charge came after a 15-second online video was shared on social media showing a portion of the confrontation. In the clip, a Black man is seen yelling at several men in uniforms - who appear to be private security staff - after getting up from a curb.

Someone yells “white p---y” at a guard, who has a leashed dog, before that guard charges at the man, appearing to grab at him while bringing the dog before the clip ends.

“As already reported extensively, a private security officer and his canine, employed through a security firm contracted by the restaurant, engaged a patron and were subsequently involved in an altercation with that patron, both at the front entrance and then in the restaurant’s parking lot,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. “The patron subsequently suffered several puncture wounds due to bites from the canine.”

Deptford police “promptly brought this matter” to county investigators, leading to a joint probe, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“It has been absolutely necessary and appropriate to undertake this investigation at a time when the use of force, and circumstances under which force is deployed, is a topic of extensive public discussion and concern,” Acting Gloucester County Prosecutor Christine Hoffman said in a statement.

“The patience of our local communities and stakeholders has been of great benefit as we’ve been conducting our investigation,” the prosecutor said.

Deptford police “have been fully cooperative and engaged with the investigation and conducted themselves with professionalism and restraint while community members have gathered at the restaurant to have their voices and concerns heard,” Hoffman added.

The confrontation touched off protests and calls to boycott the restaurant and nightclub. Protesters have commented on racial elements in the case, but law enforcement has not called the attack a bias crime. In one protest, police said they arrested two protesters for disorderly conduct.

“The Deptford Township Police Department embraces the importance of freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and community engagement,” Chief Frank Newkirk said in a statement.

“Our officers have worked hard to achieve the right balance in addressing the protests which have taken place at Adelphia since July 29th. In the interest of those who gather, as well as the officers on scene, we are committed to constant communication and cooperation so that all involved, as well as patrons of the restaurant and those traveling on Clements Bridge Road, remain safe and secure,” the chief said.

Court documents identified the man who was attacked as Khalif Hunter. Hunter said the guard pinned him to the ground with a knee in his abdomen while commanding the dog to bite him, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“We strongly condemn the egregious and unnecessary course of action the guard took against Mr. Khalif Hunter,” the Gloucester County NAACP said in a statement. “The injuries suffered by this young man are disconcerting.”

The organization called for a “a quick and swift resolution to make Mr. Hunter whole again,” and said it was working with county and local law enforcement officials.

Officials have not released the name of the security company, which supplied the guard. It was not immediately clear if the security guard had retained an attorney.

Representatives for Adelphia Restaurant have not returned previous requests for comment.

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Noah Cohen may be reached at ncohen@njadvancemedia.com.

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