Camden, NJ – A former New Jersey police chief was charged with federal hate crimes, and violating the civil rights of a black suspect during an arrest.
Former Bordentown Township Administrator and Police Chief Frank Nucera Jr.’s “racial animus” was captured on tape.
An officer concerned about the chief’s behavior began secretly recording him over the course of several months while on the job in Bordentown Township, a predominantly white community of less than 12,000 people near Trenton, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday in federal court, NBC News reported.
During that time, Chief Nucera made derogatory remarks about other black suspects, and black people in general, according to transcripts of recordings submitted by an FBI agent.
Chief Nucera retired after the federal investigation began in February. He earned $151,418 per year before he retired, and is now receiving $8,832 per month, according to state pension records.
Among other allegations, a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Camden says Nucera “ordered the racially discriminatory use of police dogs to intimidate African Americans,” including at high school basketball games, the Courier Post said.
The complaint says a police department member, identified only as Officer 1, “surreptitiously” recorded Nucera’s comments “because he was increasingly alarmed by (Nucera’s) racist remarks and hostilities toward African Americans.”
“These n*****s are like ISIS, they have no value,” the chief allegedly said after the 2015 arrest of a black suspect accused of slashing a police vehicle’s tires.
“They should line them all up and mow ’em all down,” Chief Nucera said, according to the complaint. “I’d like to be on the firing squad, I could do it.”
The U.S. Attorney’s case against Chief Nucera hinges on Sept. 1, 2016, when he’s alleged to have assaulted an arrestee, and used racial slurs when talking to him.
The complaint says the officer who had been secretly recording the chief was present, and recording, that night.
Chief Nucera arrived to back up officers who were making an arrest at a hotel. When the suspect stopped walking on the way to the patrol car, the complaint said Chief Nucera grabbed the suspect’s head and slammed it into a metal doorjamb.
When the boy complained, Nucera hit him in the head with his arm, according to the complaint.
The whistleblowing officer also recorded what happened later at the police station, the complaint said.
William Fitzpatrick, the acting U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, held a press conference to announce the charges, and used the platform to distance the rest of New Jersey from former Chief Nucera’s racist behavior.
“The tone in which (Nucera) conducted himself and in what’s charged is one of the most disturbing and disgusting events I’ve seen in over 20 years in law enforcement,” Fitzpatrick said Wednesday.
“The people who are most disgusted by it are members of the New Jersey law enforcement community, because this defendant made their jobs much harder,” he said.
Bordentown Mayor Steve Benowitz called Nucera’s alleged actions “abhorrent” and said the township “fully supports the U.S. Attorney in this process.”
“It is important to note that these charges began from a self-reported complaint within the township police department,” the mayor said. “The township has moved forward with new leadership that promotes community, inclusion and equality.”
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina agreed “the charges most definitely do not reflect the ideals of the law enforcement community.”
“It is not a reflection of the culture of the Bordentown Township Police Department, its current leadership or the dedicated officers on the force,” the prosecutor said, according to the Courier Post.
Chief Nucera was arrested Wednesday on charges of committing a hate crime, and violating the civil rights of the 18-year-old arrestee in the custody of his police officers on Sept. 1, 2016.
The former police chief was released on unsecured $500,000 bond, and ordered to give up all of his guns, and avoid contact with any potential victims or witnesses in the case ─ except his son, who is an officer on the force, according to NBC News.