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COVER-UP: Essex Correctional Officers Beat Detainee As Sergeant Stood By, Feds Charge

Essex County Correctional Facility (ECCF)
Essex County Correctional Facility (ECCF) Photo Credit: Stephanie Mastro (Googlemaps)

Three Essex County correctional officers beat a federal detainee as a sergeant stood by, said authorities who charged all four with civil rights violations.

The detainee – who was being held pending a federal trial -- squirted a mixture of urine, yogurt, and milk onto a correctional officer at the Essex County Correctional Facility (ECCF) the evening of Aug. 17, 2020, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said Friday.

The detainee was brought to a disciplinary cell and beaten by Officers Angel Chaparro, 38, Damion James, 40, and Luis Ortiz, 29, in front of Sgt. Herman Pride, 51, Honig said.

Pride didn’t intervene – but, rather, said “OK, that’s enough” after the officers were through, the U.S. attorney said.

“The detainee asked for, and was initially denied, medical assistance,” Honig said.

The victim then told Pride that he’d “lie and say that he had fallen off his bed” if he could get medical attention for the beating, Honig said.

Pride refused, she said.

The detainee was finally taken to the emergency room at University Hospital in Newark two days later, the U.S. attorney said.

He was diagnosed with large swelling and tenderness on the right side of his face and discoloration and bruising around his right eye, she said.

The defendants were required to submit documentation about their use of force but didn’t, Honig said.

“Instead, Chaparro signed a false report indicating that no force had been used,” she said.

FBI agents arrested Pride and Ortiz on Thursday. A magistrate judge in Newark released them without bail pending further court action.

Chaparro and James were arrested Friday morning and had their initial appearances scheduled for the afternoon via videoconference.

All four men are charged with conspiracy to violate civil rights.

Honig credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Field Office and the Essex County Correctional Facility Internal Affairs Bureau with the investigation leading to the charges.

Acting Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal is handling the case for the government.

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