Detectives who reviewed surveillance video identified the assailant as Oskar Potoczny, a 21-year-old Polish national who apparently quit playing football in his homeland last year.
They arrested Potoczny on aggravated assault charges only to have a Superior Court judge in Hackensack release him the very next day.
Potoczny played soccer in Poland most recently for Swit Szczecin last year, and, before that, for Pogon U19. He also played for a youth team there for several years, according to online bios.
It was late Saturday, April 29, when the victim was found severely injured on the sidewalk outside the Polka Dot Restaurant on Maple Avenue by his son and nieces, whom he’d been inside with, Wallington Police Chief Carmello J. Imbruglia said.
The victim told police he’d gone outside for a smoke and gotten into an argument with Potoczny and a woman, the chief said.
Potoczny punched him and knocked him down, he said, then kicked him in the stomach and back before leaving.
His nieces were helping the victim into his son’s friend’s vehicle when Potoczny returned, opened the door and punched him in the face again before fleeing once more, Imbruglia said.
The victim refused to go to the hospital but was forced to by the pain the next day, the chief said.
The Clifton Emergency Squad took him to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, where his severe injuries were diagnosed, Imbruglia said.
Detective Lt. Joseph Rock and Detective Simon Popek then dug into the incident.
After speaking with the victim in the hospital, they obtained surveillance video from that night.
Popek also interviewed the nieces, whom the chief said were inside the establishment when the assault occurred but nonetheless provided vital pieces of information, including Potoczny's first name.
The detectives also learned that Potoczny’s sister tends bar at the Polka Dot, Imbruglia said.
Detectives looked up her social media accounts and found photos that included the assailant seen in the surveillance video, he said. A driver's license check confirmed that it was Potoczny, the chief added.
The victim is continuing a long road to recovery, he said. Potoczny, meanwhile, awaits court action.
It wasn’t immediately clear when -- or why -- Potoczny came to Wallington to live. Criminal records on file in Hackensack continue to list him as a Polish national. No action by the INS is included.
Click here to follow Daily Voice Rutherford and receive free news updates.