A jury on Wednesday convicted a racist former New Jersey police chief who allegedly slammed a handcuffed Black teenager’s head into a metal doorjamb on one count of lying to the FBI, but said they were deadlocked on both a federal civil rights and hate crimes charge.
Former Bordentown Township Police Chief Frank Nucera was the first law enforcement officer to face a federal hate crimes charge in more than a decade.
Nucera was recorded by his own officers as he went on racist rants against nonwhite citizens and declared then-candidate Donald Trump the “last hope for white people.” Nucera thought that Black people should “stay the fuck out of Bordentown,” compared them to ISIS and animals, said they had “no value” and should be mowed down by a firing squad.
Nucera’s legal team conceded that Nucera used “ugly, embarrassing, disgusting words,” but contended that there was no firm evidence he hit Black 18-year-old Timothy Stroye’s head against a doorjamb while he was handcuffed, despite the fact that two Bordentown Township police officers testified that Nucera did just that.
Justice Department prosecutors, Nucera attorney Rocco Cipparone told jurors in his opening statement, “want you to turn criminal justice into social justice.”
On Monday, the fourth day of deliberations, jurors hearing the case in Camden told U.S. District Court Judge Robert Kugler they were deadlocked on the charges against Nucera. But they continued deliberating on Monday afternoon after Kugler asked them to keep trying to reach a verdict. In addition to the civil rights and hate crimes charges, Nucera faced another charge for allegedly lying to the FBI about the Stroye incident.
The case against Nucera came to fruition a few months after Trump joked about slamming handcuffed suspects’ heads in a speech before police officers. During the Trump administration, the Justice Department has backed away from investigating patterns of police misconduct in law enforcement organizations.