Essex County, NJ corrections personnel indicted for alleged assault
NEWARK — Federal indictments have come down for an Essex County corrections officer, two sergeants, and a lieutenant in connection with an incident involving a pretrial detainee last summer, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
On Aug. 17, 2020 at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, the detainee was reported to have squirted a mixture of urine, yogurt, and milk onto a correctional officer. The detainee was transferred to a disciplinary cell, where Officer Damion James, 41, is accused of assaulting the detainee in violation of his civil rights, striking him in the body and face multiple times, the release said.
Documents filed in the case further accuse Sgt. Herman Pride, 51, Sgt. Jennifer Whitley, 38, and Lt. Nicholas Palma, 46, of witnessing the assault but failing to intervene.
Whitley was additionally charged with filing a false report claiming no use of force. That was a charge originally attributed to Officer Angel Chaparro, who has pleaded guilty to his role in the report's submission.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said neither James, Pride, nor Palma submitted any reports at all, as required.
Despite his requests for medical attention, the detainee was not taken to a hospital until two days after the incident, at which time he was found to have discoloration and bruising around his right eye, and swelling and tenderness over the right side of his face.
It has never been made clear whether any of the personnel alleged to have been involved in the assault were the target of the mixture projected by the detainee.
James, Pride, Whitley, and Palma will be arraigned at a future date yet to be determined.