Note: warning -- obscene language from police chief is quoted in haec verba. The language in this blog is G-rated, ordinarily, and I won't run comments containing cuss words because nuns (including my aunt might be reading it). I'm making an exception for this police chief's racist rodomontade.
N.J. police chief said black people are 'like ISIS' and he'd like to be 'on the firing squad,' feds say
Frank Nucera Jr., 60, the former Borden Township police chief, was arrested Oct. 30. A criminal complaint in the case said he used racial slurs and espoused violence toward African Americans.
November 1, 2017
The former chief of a small township in New Jersey has been arrested on federal hate crime and civil rights charges for what federal authorities described as a pattern of racist comments and behavior — including slamming an African-American teen's head into a metal door jamb and saying that black people are "like ISIS."
Frank Nucera Jr., 60, who had been chief of the Borden Township Police Department, was arrested Monday, and the charges against him were unsealed Tuesday. The allegations are notable for the blatant racism they describe by a law enforcement leader.
According to a criminal complaint in the case, filed in federal district court in New Jersey, Nucera frequently referred to African-Americans by racial slurs and espoused violence toward them. In November 2015, for example, when he was talking to a subordinate officer about an African-American man he believed to have slashed the tires of a police vehicle, Nucera said, "I wish that [expletive] would come back from Trenton and give me a reason to put my hands on him, I'm tired of 'em. These [expletives] are like ISIS, they have no value. They should line them all up and mow 'em down. I'd like to be on the firing squad, I could do it," according to the complaint.
Nucera also used police dogs to intimidate African-Americans, bringing canines to high school basketball games when his department was providing security and positioning them near the entrance to the gym, federal authorities alleged.
Efforts to reach family members for Nucera were not immediately successful, and no lawyer was listed for him in court records. Federal authorities said Nucera retired from the police department shortly after New Jersey's attorney general was informed of the investigation into him.
In 2014, Nucera was reportedly shot in the leg by his own gun after some kind of interaction with a preteen at the municipal building.
Civil liberties advocates have criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for trying to undo efforts of the Obama administration to mandate reforms at police departments. Trump's top law enforcement official has ordered his department to review all the court-supervised reform agreements it has with police departments nationwide, saying it was necessary to ensure that these pacts do not work against the Trump administration's goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime. He also rolled back a different Obama-era effort to investigate police departments and work with them outside of court to fix their failings.
But Sessions has indicated a willingness to prosecute individual officers accused of wrongdoing. Nucera's case might provide some evidence of that. The charges were described in an affidavit signed by an FBI agent and approved by a federal prosecutor in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney's Office.
The physical violence of which Nucera is accused occurred in September 2016. According to the criminal complaint, the manager of a Ramada hotel called police to report that two African-American teens, an 18-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl, had failed to pay for a hotel room the night before and were swimming in the hotel pool.
When officers arrived, according to complaint, the teens resisted arrest. One of the officers pepper sprayed the 18-year-old, and both teens were eventually handcuffed and taken into custody, according to the complaint.
Several minutes later, as officers were walking the 18-year-old toward a stairwell, the teen briefly stopped and began shouting, according to the complaint. Though he was not kicking or struggling, Nucera approached, grab the teen's head and slammed it into a metal door jamb, according to the complaint.
The officers involved described the incident to investigators, though one said he did not report it initially because he feared retaliation from Nucera. The teen initially asked to go to the hospital, complaining of a possible concussion, but ultimately changed his mind and was jailed, according to the complaint.
From criminal complaint filed in United States District Court, Camden, N.J. in United States of America v. Frank Nucera, Jr., October 31, 2017 by Vernon I. Addison, Special Agent, Acting U.S. Attorney Lorber and Honorable Ann Marie Donio, U.S. Magistrate Judge
On or about the date(s) of September 1, 2016 in the county of Burlington in the District of New Jersey , the defendant(s) violated:
COUNT ONE (Hate Crime)
On or about September 1, 2016, in Burlington County, in the District of New Jersey, and elsewhere, defendant
FRANK NOCERA, JR.
did willfully cause bodily injury to Civilian 1, who is African American, by assaulting Civilian 1 because of his actual and perceived race and color.
In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 249(a)(l).COUNT TWO
On or about September 1, 2016, in Burlington County, in the District of New Jersey, and elsewhere, defendant
FRANK NUCERA, JR.
did, while acting under color of law, assault Civilian 1 during the course of an arrest of Civilian 1 while Civilian 1 was restrained and handcuffed, thereby willfully depriving Civilian 1 of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. This offense resulted in bodily injury to Civilian 1.
In violation of Title 18,·United States Code, Section 242.
I, Vernon I. Addison, am a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I am the co-case agent in this investigation and I am familiar with the statements of the witnesses, the recorded statements of the defendant, as well as other relevant information, documents and materials. I submit this affidavit in support of a Criminal Complaint alleging that the defendant, a law enforcement officer, willfully caused bodily injury to a civilian, hereinafter referred to as Civilian 1, who was an eighteen year old African American male, because of his actual and perceived race and color, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 249(a)(l). In addition, the Criminal Complaint alleges that the defendant assaulted Civilian 1 while Civilian 1 was in custody and handcuffed, in violation ofTitle 18, United States Code, Section 242. Because this Criminal Complaint is being submitted for the limited purpose of establishing probable cause, I have not included evety fact known to me concerning this investigation. I have set forth only the facts that I believe are necessary to establish probable cause.
1. At all times relevant to this Complaint, defendant FRANK NUCERA, JR. ("NUCERA") was the Chief of the Bordentown Township Police Department
("BTPD") in Bordentown Township, New Jersey.1
1Defendant NUCERA retired as Chief of the BTPD shortly after the Government informed the New Jersey Attorney General of the pending investigation into Nucera's racially motivated use of excessive force.
3. Defendant NUCERA has a significant history of making racist comments concerning African Americans, to whom he frequently referred as "niggers," "nigs," "moulinyans" (an Italian-derived racial slur for African Americans) and "moulies." Defendant NUCERA also made racist comments espousing violence towards African Americans. For example, in or about November 2015, when defendant NUCERA suspected that a previously arrested African American individual had slashed the tires of a police vehicle, defendant NUCERA stated to a subordinate officer, hereinafter referred to as Officer 1, in substance and in part:
I wish that nigger would come back from Trenton and give me a reason to put my hands on him, I'm tired of 'em. These niggers are like ISIS, they have no value. They should line them all up and mow 'em down. I'd like to be on the firing squad, I could do it. I used to think about if I could shoot someone or not, I could do it, I'm tired of it.
4. Defendant NUCERA has also ordered the racially discriminatory use of police dogs to intimidate African Americans. For example, when the BTPD provided security for high school basketball games, defendant NUCERA instructed police officers to bring canines to certain games and to position the canine vehicles at the entrance to the gymnasium in order to intimidate African American patrons. As another example, on or about April 30, 2016, during a discussion with Officer 1, which was audio recorded, defendant NUCERA directed Officer 1 to walk a police dog through an apartment complex to "let these fucking moulies see him. Let 'em see him. I don't care."
5. On the evening of September 1, 2016, two BTPD officers, identified herein as Officer 2 and Officer 3, responded to a call for help at the Bordentown Ramada hotel. The hotel manager had called police to report that two young individuals had failed to pay for a hotel room the night before and had been swimming in the hotel pool that afternoon. The two individuals were Civilian 1, an eighteen-year-old African American male, and Civilian 2, a sixteen-year-old African American female. Shortly after the two BTPD officers arrived at the Ramada and attempted to question Civilian 1 and Civilian 2 about ~e allegation that they had failed to pay for the hotel room, the interaction escalated into a physical struggle in a second-floor hallway. Both Civilian 1 and Civilian 2 resisted arrest. During the struggle, one of the officers used pepper spray on Civilian 1, and the officers called for backup. In
2 Over the course of approximately one year, Officer 1 made numerous recordings of defendant NUCERA, some of which contain extremely offensive racist comments by defendant NUCERA. Officer 1 stated that he began recording defendant NUCERA because he became increasingly alarmed by the defendant's racist remarks and hostility towards African Americans.
In response, several other police officers, including defendant NUCERA and Officer 1, went to the Ramada. With the additional police assistance, Civilian 1 and Civilian 2 were subdued and handcuffed.
a. According to Officer 1, several minutes after Civilian 1 had
been handcuffed, officers stood him up and began guiding him towards the stairwell. Civilian 1 briefly stopped walking as he reached the area in front of the stairwell doorway and began shouting at the officers. He was not kicking or struggling. Officer 1, who was standing behind Officer 2 and Civilian 1, observed Officer 2 place his hand on Civilian l's back and begin to push him forward to encourage him to keep walking. At that moment, Officer 1 saw defendant NUCERA approach Officer 2 and Civilian 1 from behind and, using his left hand, grab Civilian l's head and slam it into the right side of the metal doorjamb separating the hallway from the stairwell. Officer 1 heard Civilian 1's head make a loud thud as it hit the doorjamb.
b. According to Officer 2, B:t the time of the assault Civilian 1 was handcuffed and no longer resisting. Officer 2 had his arm linked through Civilian 1's to escort Civilian 1 through the doorway at the top of the stairs. Defendant NUCERA was behind them. When Civilian 1 stopped walking for a moment to loudly complain, Officer 2, in his peripheral vision, saw defendant NUCERA's arm move swiftly towards the area of Civilian 1's neck or head. The resulting blow moved both Officer 2 and Civilian 1 through the doorway. Officer 2's right shoulder hit the doorjamb, and some part of the left side of Civilian l's body hit the doorjamb. According to Officer 2, the blow was "significant." Officer 2 did not report defendant NUCERA's use of force, even though he viewed it as excessive, because he was afraid of retaliation from the defendant.
escort Civilian 1 down the stairs, out of the hotel, and into a patrol vehicle. Civilian 1 was transported to the BTPD station for processing. While at the BTPD station, Civilian 1 complained of head pain and a possible concussion, among other injuries, and requested medical attention. Officer 1 surreptitiously recorded this exchange, as well as subsequent conversations at the police station that evening. Officer 1 called Emergency Medical Services ("EMS"), who evaluated Civilian 1. Civilian 1 initially requested transport to the hospital. An EMS technician can be heard on Officer 1's recording, however, speaking dismissively of Civilian 1's complaints to police officers, and referring to Civilian 1 as a "dumbass." A few minutes later, Civilian 1 changed his mind and declined a trip to the hospital, instead opting to be processed at the county jail.
Recordings of Defendant Nucera's Racist Statements After the Arrest of Civilian 1
8. Within hours of defendant NUCERA's assault of Civilian 1, Officer 1 recorded defendant NUCERA making the following racially hostile statements
regarding Civilian 1, Civilian 2, and African Americans in general:
I said, "I'm telling you, you're getting close to getting thrown on the fucking floor too. Get back."
"That's my niece." I said, "I don't care who the fuck it is. Get fucking back! Don't yell at me, one more time."
Fucking nipple hanging bitch. I'm so tired of them man.
Shortly thereafter, defendant NUCERA had the following exchange with Officer 1:
NUCERA: Officer 1: NUCERA:
They're from Trenton. I think so.
Stay the fuck out of Bordentown.4 Now they can go home and tell them, you can go to
4 The residents of Bordentown are predominantly Caucasian, as opposed to the residents of Trenton who are predominantly African American. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that, as of April 2010, the population of Caucasians in Bordentown was 74.4%, and the population of African Americans in Bordentown was 10.7%. See United States Census Bureau QuickFacts, Bordentown Township, New Jersey, available at
https:/ /www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/bordentowntownshipburlingto ncountynewjersey/PST045216.
Bordentown, they'll fuck, I just, you know what? It would have been nice if that fucking dog could have come up. 'Cause they would have stopped, put down.
Later that evening, Officer 1 recorded defendant NUCERA referring to Civilian 1 as a "[f]ucking little, fucking nigger."
9. On December 13, 2016, approximately three months after Civilian 1's arrest, Officer 1 recorded defendant NUCERA attempting to defend the
excessive use of force against Civilian 1 by arguing that numerous police officers had to respond to the call "'cause of six unruly fucking niggers."