What to Know
- Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday for the civil rights and hate crime trial of a white former New Jersey police chief
- Frank Nucera, the former Bordentown Township police chief, is accused of slamming a handcuffed black man's head into a doorjamb
- Prosecutors say one of Nucera's police officers secretly recorded his comments over the course of a year out of concern about his views
A jury resumes deliberations Monday in the federal trial of a white former New Jersey police chief accused of slamming a handcuffed black man's head into a doorjamb three years ago.
Authorities allege that 62-year-old Frank Nucera, former Bordentown Township police chief, approached the 18-year-old prisoner from behind in September 2016 and smashed his head into a doorjamb while the suspect was being escorted by two officers from a hotel.
Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said the man wasn't endangering the officers and that assault was driven by "racial hatred," on the part of Nucera, who retired in January 2017 amid an FBI investigation. He faces charges of hate crime assault, deprivation of civil rights and lying to FBI agents.
Prosecutors say one of Nucera's police officers secretly recorded his comments over the course of a year because, they say, he was "increasingly alarmed by (Nucera's) racist remarks and hostility toward African Americans." They also allege that Nucera, who also served as a township administrator before retiring, used police dogs to intimidate African-Americans, including stationing them at high school basketball games to intimidate black fans.
Defense attorney Rocco Cipparone contends that the officers wanted to get rid of Nucera because of his tough disciplinary policies. He also pointed to differences in witness accounts.
The jury of nine white and three black members has deliberated for about 15 hours over three days. Members of the panel on Friday asked the judge to clarify the meaning of "reasonable doubt," then ended deliberations until Monday. The panel earlier asked to review testimony from the hotel general manager and a detective.
Bordentown is a predominantly white town of about 11,000 a few miles from New Jersey's majority African American capital city of Trenton.