Police Officer Convicted of Beating, Spraying Arrestee in Little Silver
A police officer on the Little Silver force risks up to 10 years in prison on each of four counts of official misconduct for beating and pepper-spraying an uncooperative arrestee in 2009.
Steven Solari was convicted today in Monmouth County Superior Court on those charges as well as for assault and hindering his own apprehension, according to details from the office of acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Grammiccioni.
Sentencing is scheduled for January 17, 2014 in the courtroom of Judge Francis Vernoia.
The second-degree official misconduct counts also carry mandatory five-year periods of parole ineligibility.The third-degree hindering charge carries a possible five-year prison term and the assault count is punishable by up to six months.
"No one is above the law, especially not members of the law enforcement community who hold the public trust, and who are sworn to uphold the law by protecting and serving the general public," Gramiccioni said in a prepared release.
According to prosecutors, Solari conducted a welfare check on a man in a home in the borough at the request of the individual's mother on December 20, 2009.
Before the encounter was over, said investigators, Solari had arrested, cuffed and pepper-sprayed him, leaving him with a head injury, bleeding, and eye irritation.
With an ambulance standing by for the victim, say authorities, Solari broke with department policy and took him to headquarters to book him.
When the arrestee refused to cooperate for a side-view mug shot, prosecutors say, Solari delivered several punches to the head and sent him careening into a metal file cabinet, resulting in yet another head injury.
He was treated and released by the next day at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank.
Prosecutors assert that Solari set about covering up the episode in ensuing days, submitting laundered police reports and claiming that the arrestee "began to lunge" at a first-aid responder present during the attack.
Both medical techs and the victim refuted the claim in testimony, asserting that Solari was the aggressor.
Solari, said investigators, also approached one of the medical responders three times - twice in uniform - reminding the witness, "Just remember he lunged," if anyone inquired about the incident.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office maintains a Corruption Tip Line aimed at rooting out fraud, misconduct and unethical behavior in local government agencies. The phone line is 855-7-UNJUST (855-786-5878).
Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, with "Corruption/Misconduct Tip" in the subject line.