A former police chief was just arrested on federal hate crime and civil rights charges after using excessive force during an arrest.
Per a statement posted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, Frank Nucera Jr. was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents yesterday (November 1) and charged with a “hate crime assault and the deprivation of civil rights under color of law.” Nucera is the now-retired town administrator and police chief of Bordentown Township in New Jersey.
“The nobility of police officers is rooted in their selfless commitment to protect our communities and their pledge to honor our constitutional values. As chief of the Bordentown Township Police Department, the defendant dishonored the profession by doing neither,” Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick said in the statement. “The complaint alleges that the defendant harbored an intense racial animosity towards African Americans, and on September 1, 2016, that senseless hatred led to the unlawful assault of a handcuffed and defenseless prisoner. The conduct alleged is a shocking breach of the duty of every police officer to provide equal justice under the law and never to mistreat a person in custody. As a result, the former chief of police is now a charged federal criminal defendant.”
The federal government filed the criminal complaint against Nucera with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on Tuesday (October 31). The charges stem from a September 2016 incident where Borden Township Police Department officers responded to a call that two Black teens—a 16-year-old girl and an 18-year-old boy—were in a room at the Bordentown Ramada that they hadn’t paid for. Per the complaint, while the boy (referred to as Civilian 1) was being escorted out of the hotel in handcuffs, Nucera approached him from behind and slammed his head into a metal doorjamb. The complaint alleges that the assault was “motivated by an intense racial animus.” One of the officers (Officer 1 in the documents) recorded portions of the exchange and Nucera’s comments after, and those details are included in complaint.
It also details Nucera’s previous actions:
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.
It also documents that he has ordered officers to use police dogs to intimidate Black people at high school football games and in apartment complexes.
Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio in a federal court in Camden, New Jersey.