NEWARK — A 22-year-old Newark man, who was last released from prison just seven months ago, has been identified as the star of a viral YouTube video showing a naked Newark man being viciously whipped over a $20 debt, police said today.
Ahmad Holt was charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy and robbery in connection with the brutal video, which gained national attention and drew more than 40,000 views on YouTube before it was removed from the web site, Police Director Samuel DeMaio said today.
The alleged cameraman, Jamaar Grey, and another man named Raheem Clark have also been charged in the crime, according to DeMaio. Grey surrendered with his attorney on Tuesday while Clark was arrested by the city's fugitive apprehension team. Grey's girlfriend, Nicole Smith, was also arrested after police allegedly found her in possession of 20 decks of heroin, DeMaio said.
Holt was already incarcerated at the Central Reception & Assignment Facility in Trenton on an undisclosed charge, records show. He was arrested on Feb. 5th, just days before the video went viral.
Mayor Cory Booker called the videotape of the beating a "human tragedy," and banged his hands in frustration during his remarks at today's press conference, causing microphones to feedback.
"We do not tolerate this type of evil in the community," he said. "This is not who we are."
North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos thanked Newark police officials for making the arrest and condemned the action of the people involved in the assault.
"I'm sick and tired of seeing this national trend of young men engaging in such unacceptable behavior and then posting it for all to see as if it were a sport," Ramos said.
DeMaio said the attack happened in August of 2012, but police were not made aware of the video until last week. Public records show Holt was last released from prison on July 30, 2012, meaning he was free for only a few weeks before the attack was filmed.
The two-and-a-half-minute long video shows the man cornered by at least three others in a Newark alley, being forced to strip naked as he's berated and cursed at. Holt demands money from the victim, whose father was apparently in debt to Holt, while the cameraman splashes water on his naked body.
After he takes a belt from someone else, Holt proceeds to viciously whip the man for 90 seconds while ordering to yell the phrase "Doggy Dawg" and to tell the camera that it is a "Doggy Dawg" world. DeMaio said "Doggy Dawg" is a street name used by Holt, and said all three suspects have known gang affiliations.
Officials declined to comment on the motive behind the crime. DeMaio described the victim as a 21-year-old Newark who was "reluctantly cooperative" when he was contacted by police last week. The victim has since moved out of the area.
The video went viral after it was posted to YouTube and WorldStarHipHop.com last week, but it has since been removed from both web sites. Police do not know who uploaded the video.
Holt served roughly 18 months in prison, according to public records, after he was charged with eluding police, drug distribution and weapons possession in December 2010. Records show he was incarcerated again on Feb. 5, less than two days before the video went viral. It is unclear why he was arrested earlier this month.