A New Jersey State Police trooper was charged with assault after striking a handcuffed woman in custody while holding a flashlight in his hand.

Trooper Nicholas J. Hogan, 28, of Gibbstown, responded to a trespassing call in Upper Deerfield on around 1:30 a.m., Sept. 7, 2022.

Troopers encountered the person described by the caller walking in the middle of the road. She appeared to be inebriated and in need of medical attention. Additional troopers came to the scene.

The woman tried to walk away but Hogan handcuffed her and placed her in the back of a trooper car, officials said.

The crying woman, whose nose was running, asked several times for a tissue but did not receive one, state officials said. While handcuffed in the backseat, she spat in the direction of a trooper standing near the open door.

“If you f***ing spit on a trooper,” Hogan said as the woman turned toward him and spat again, this time in his direction, officials said.

That's when Hogan struck the woman, officials said.

The woman was never charged with a crime.

“This alleged use of force appears to have been completely avoidable, and the degree of force used was unreasonable,” Thomas Eicher, executive director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, said in a statement. “We cannot have police officers assaulting people in distress while they are restrained and posing no threat. It is uncalled for, unhelpful, improper, and unlawful.”

Hogan was charged with one count of third-degree aggravated assault causing significant bodily injury. He could be sentenced to three to five years in prison and fined a maximum of $15,000.

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