Originally published on January 28, 2015, at NationofChange.org
The FBI arrested a New Jersey police officer on Friday after a federal grand jury charged him with violating a defendant’s civil rights by using excessive force during an arrest and falsifying records in an attempt to conceal the alleged crime. According to a lawsuit filed by the victim and his family against the Bayonne Police Department, Officer Domenico Lillo repeatedly struck the handcuffed victim in the face with a metal flashlight knocking out most of his front teeth. In 2011, the City of Bayonne paid roughly $100,000 to settle a previous suit accusing Lillo and other officers of conspiracy, deliberate indifference, deprivation of due process, deprivation of property, excessive force, failure to intervene, malicious prosecution, and wrongful arrest.
On the evening of December 27, 2013, Bayonne police officers Domenico Lillo, Francis Styles, and James Wade responded to Kathy Walsh’s residence to execute an arrest warrant for her son, Brandon. According to police, Brandon Walsh answered the door but refused to step outside with the officers. Pushing one of them back, Walsh allegedly attempted to force the door closed when one of the officers grabbed the front of his shirt. Walsh reportedly struck the cop on the side of the face and the top of the head before they restrained him with handcuffs.
But according to a federal lawsuit against the police department, officers Lillo, Styles, and Wade had stormed into the residence pepper spraying Walsh and throwing him to the ground. As they continued to assault Walsh on the floor, the officers also doused his mother’s face with pepper spray when she asked why they were attacking her son. Suffering from the noxious fumes of the pepper spray, Kathy Walsh, her children, and her grandchildren watched as the police handcuffed Walsh and escorted him down the front steps.
The police claim Walsh cut his forehead when he tried to pull away, causing an officer to fall onto of him. In contrast, Walsh’s family asserts Walsh had accidentally fallen down the stairs. After getting up off the ground, the officers continued escorting Walsh to their patrol car when Lillo pulled a metal flashlight from his belt and repeatedly beat Walsh across the face while Walsh’s hands were cuffed behind his back.
Officers Styles and Wade allegedly stood by and watched as Lillo permanently disfigured Walsh’s face. Suffering multiple lacerations requiring sutures, Walsh also lost most of his front teeth in the beating. Unbeknownst to the officers, a local business’ surveillance camera captured Lillo’s vicious assault on tape corroborating Walsh’s version of events.
After transporting Walsh to the Bayonne Medical Center, Lillo allegedly falsified a Bayonne Police Department Use of Force Report related to the arrest with the intent to impede an investigation into the case. Walsh and his family filed a federal lawsuit against Lillo, Styles, Wade, the Bayonne Police Department, and the city of Bayonne alleging the use of excessive force and falsifying records in order to cover up their actions.
On Friday, the FBI arrested Lillo on charges of deprivation of civil rights under color of law and falsification of records. Lillo has been suspended without pay and faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
In 2007, Officer Lillo and Detective David Macre allegedly assaulted Michael Condo and Greg DeRocco as they left Fratelli’s Bar. Det. Macre reportedly beat and kicked Condo on the ground while Lillo tackled DeRocco and repeatedly punched him in the face. Lillo also kicked DeRocco’s sister as she pleaded for Lillo to stop. Police charged Condo and DeRocco with aggravated assault and resisting arrest.
As prosecutors decided to dismiss all charges against them, Condo and DeRocco filed a lawsuit accusing Lillo and the other officers of conspiracy, deliberate indifference, deprivation of due process, deprivation of property, excessive force, failure to intervene, malicious prosecution, and wrongful arrest. Although the city of Bayonne paid nearly $100,000 to settle the suit, no officers were charged with the assault.
“This was something that you knew sooner or later was coming. And when you’re going to do something like that, this is what gives all police officers a black eye,” stated Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, a former police officer.