An independent investigation was launched Tuesday into any incidents involving the Mount Laurel man who is now facing criminal charges after he was recorded verbally attacking neighbors with racist rants, as well as one into the police response to his home last week, officials said.
The investigation into 45-year-old Edward C. Mathews was announced Tuesday night in a joint statement by Congressman Andy Kim, State Senator Troy Singleton, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina, and Mount Laurel Mayor Stephen Steglik.
The group thanked residents for “shining a bright light on this individual’s menacing interactions within the Mount Laurel community” that led to him being charged with harassment, bias intimidation and criminal trespass for recent confrontations with neighbors.
“That being said, we fully understand the community’s frustration and anger as to what was witnessed in that video,” the statement read. “We have heard from many residents that the behavior depicted by Mathews was not an isolated incident, but rather a part of a pattern of racial intimidation and hostility. Therefore, the Prosecutor’s Office is announcing that it will launch an independent investigation into any and all incidents involving Mathews in Mount Laurel.”
The prosecutor’s office will also be investigating the “circumstances of the Mount Laurel Police Department’s handling of the incident to which they were called on Friday night,” the statement said.
Police were summoned to the community where Matthews lives multiple times Friday after more complaints of racist behavior and a video of one of the confrontations went viral over the weekend. On Monday morning, Mount Laurel police said in a Facebook post they’d charged Mathews with harassment and bias intimidation.
Mathews was charged, but not arrested and a Mount Laurel Police spokesman said officers asked for a complaint arrest warrant, but a judge issued a complaint summons.
On Monday afternoon and evening protesters gathered at Mathews’ home — he’d challenged them in one of the videos to do so, giving his address — and police later stood at the door of the condo.
Later, officers handcuffed Mathews and raced him to a police car as protesters pelted them with drink bottles, some of which showered them with liquids.
Mathews remained jailed Tuesday and is scheduled to appear in court this Friday for a detention hearing. The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said they will argue he be detained pending trial.
Anyone who has information about incidents with Mathews that wanted to share for the independent investigation was asked to do so by emailing the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office at [email protected].