Your comments: Should NJ cop be punished for hitting annoying bunny guy?
New Jersey 101.5 video. Warning: Graphic content
HOPATCONG — Should a Sussex County cop be disciplined, or even face criminal charges, for hitting a 29-year-old man who tried to turn himself in on a warrant while wearing a bunny costume and blowing a loud air horn?
In the court of public opinion, most people say Kevin Hemmerich only got what he deserved.
But others say Officer Nicholas Maresca could have handled the situation better and should have controlled his temper.
The incident was caught on video by Hemmerich’s brother, who followed him to this borough’s police station this week so Hemmerich could turn himself in on a warrant for failing to show up for a 12-day work sentence for not having auto insurance during an accident.
Jason Hemmerich told New Jersey 101.5 on Friday that his brother thought showing up in a bunny costume and annoyingly blowing an air horn in the police station’s lobby would make for a funny video.
The video they got instead shows the costumed brother getting hit in the face by Maresca’s gloved hand.
The Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the incident.
Commenting on our Friday story, reader Alexander Dinicola had no sympathy for the brothers.
“You idiots got what you were looking for. And I hope it hurt like hell,” he said.
“I think this was a set-up so that they could cry ‘police brutality,’” another reader wrote. “He got what he deserved. What idiots.”
On our YouTube video of the incident, commenter Jim Colfer doesn’t see any problem with cops using a little force.
“Sorry but the two brothers are not respectful of the function of the police dept and slapping him in the head to realize where he is might just bring him back to the real word,” he said.
Reader John Ryan, however, said the officer could have handled “the issue with a smile on [his] face.”
“As goofy as those two brothers were[, the] cop was wrong and he came in with a negative attitude,” reader Birdie Miller said. “He either has to learn how to do his job better or resign.”
Another YouTube viewer was “torn.”
“I think the loser deserved it but the cop shouldn't have done it, clearly hiding behind a badge.”
What do you think? Should the cop be punished or should prosecutors and the department let it go?
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.