FBI busts 2 Trenton cops over bloody arrest; 3rd fired for Facebook post
TRENTON — A city police officer and a former colleague accused of assaulting a man they were arresting have both been charged with obstruction of justice and violating the man's civil rights.
Federal prosecutors say the former officer faces additional counts for allegedly assaulting a prisoner who was in a holding cell.
In a third, unrelated case, an officer was fired over offensive Facebook comments about the people he was sworn to protect.
Trenton officer Drew Inman and former city officer Anthony Villanueva are charged in a six-count indictment that was handed up Thursday by a federal grand jury and unsealed Tuesday. It wasn't known if either man has retained an attorney.
The counts against both officers stem from an April 2017 traffic stop in Trenton.
Authorities say the driver tried to flee on foot but was soon surrounded by police. As he was complying with their commands, Villanueva allegedly punched him in the face and Inman allegedly tackled him to the ground.
Inman and Villanueva then punched the man numerous times while he cried out in pain.
The Trentonian obtained bodycam footage of the arrest, which you can watch here. WARNING: The video contains profanity and violence.
Authorities say Inman and Villanueva both prepared and submitted false and fraudulent reports in which they attempted to portray the victim as the aggressor and an ongoing threat.
Both men are expected to appear in federal court in Tuesday afternoon.
The second incident involving Villanueva allegedly occurred in November 2017, while he was working in the holding cell area of Trenton police headquarters. Authorities say he pepper sprayed a prisoner and later completed an incident report that contained numerous false statements designed to conceal his conduct.
Both officers could face more than 30 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
The city last week also fired a different officer who had made comments on Facebook that officials officials deemed racist and offensive, The Trentonian reported Tuesday.
Officer Michael Palinczar referred to himself as an "overseer," which was a term for a plantation supervisor of slaves. A majority of the city's residents are black.
“Trentonians rather sit on their a***s and wait for the first of the month and max that family first card out by the fifth day of the month and are broke for another 25 days, sad but true,” Palinczar wrote on Twitter.
Mayor Reed Gusciora earlier in the month said that “language and bigoted attitudes like this have harmful impacts on residents and erodes the trust between police and the community."