A former New Jersey police chief has gotten a partial reprieve from federal charges stemming from a 2016 arrest. However, he’s still set to report to prison this year to serve time on another charge.
The defendant, who was the police chief of Bordentown Township for 10 years, was accused of slamming an 18-year-old Black man’s head into a metal door frame as he was being arrested for trespassing at a motel.
Officers testified against him
He was charged with hate crime assault as well as civil rights violations for that incident as well as making false statements to the FBI. He was convicted on the last charge. However, prosecutors have decided to drop the other charges after two mistrials in which jurors failed to reach a verdict.
Among those testifying against the former chief were officers who had worked for him – one of whom reported the alleged incident during the arrest to federal authorities. They testified and used recorded evidence to show that he had expressed negative views about Black people, saying that they should “stay…out of Bordentown” and used racial slurs.
What effect will this have on future hate crime prosecutions?
While prosecutors believed that they’d have even less chance of getting a conviction on the hate crime and civil rights charges in yet a third trial, one law professor said that this outcome will make it “exceedingly difficult” for other prosecutors to bring these charges in the future. She noted, “I think that there is going to be a significant disincentive…to bring charges again.”
The former officer has been sentenced to serve more than two years in federal prison for the crime of lying to federal authorities. He is still appealing his conviction on that charge.
It’s not common, or at least as common as it should be, for police officers to report excessive violence by their colleagues – let alone their superiors. Too often it comes down to the word of the victim against that of an officer. In recent high-profile cases, video evidence – often from officers’ body cameras – has helped persuade juries of their guilt. However, it can be an uphill road to take on the police. Experienced legal advice can make all the difference.