- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 9, 2019

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - A white former New Jersey police chief accused of slamming a handcuffed black man’s head into a doorjamb three years ago has been convicted of lying to the FBI.

After jurors announced the verdict Wednesday on one count in the federal trial of Frank Nucera, 62, the judge sent them back to consider whether there was any possibility of verdicts on the remaining two counts. Jurors, who had reported a deadlock on all counts Monday, were to return Thursday to consider the hate crime assault and deprivation of civil rights charges.

Authorities allege that the former Bordentown Township police chief, approached the 18-year-old prisoner from behind in September 2016 and smashed his head into a doorjamb while the suspect was being escorted by two officers from a hotel. Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said the man wasn’t endangering the officers and that assault was driven by “racial hatred,” on the part of Nucera, who retired in January 2017 amid an FBI investigation. He faces charges of hate crime assault, deprivation of civil rights and lying to FBI agents.

Prosecutors say one of Nucera’s police officers secretly recorded his comments over the course of a year because, they say, he was “increasingly alarmed by (Nucera’s) racist remarks and hostility toward African Americans.” They also allege that Nucera, who also served as a township administrator before retiring, used police dogs to intimidate African-Americans, including stationing them at high school basketball games to intimidate black fans.

Defense attorney Rocco Cipparone contends that the officers wanted to get rid of Nucera because of his tough disciplinary policies. He also pointed to differences in witness accounts and argued that while Nucera’s language was “ugly, embarrassing and offensive,” the words didn’t constitute proof of assault.

Bordentown is a predominantly white town of about 11,000 a few miles from New Jersey’s majority African American capital city of Trenton.

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