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Cops admit vandalizing cars of man who filed complaint against them, prosecutor says

Cops admit vandalizing cars of man who filed complaint against them, prosecutor says
ErnestMignoli

Two Asbury Park police officers admitted Tuesday that they vandalized a pair of cars last year belonging to a man who filed an internal affairs complaint against them, authorities said.
Asbury Park Police Officer Stephen Martinsen, 31, and former SLEO-2 Thomas Dowling, 27, both of Asbury Park, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal mischief and as part of their plea deals they must forfeit any future public employment in the state, according to a statement from Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.They also face probation when they are sentenced on Oct. 16 and must pay back the victim for the damage they caused to his cars, the office said.
“Spiteful retaliation from law enforcement officers towards a citizen for any reason is an unacceptable option. This is in no way condoned at any level, for any reason,” Gramiccioni said in the statement. “All members of the law enforcement community must maintain the public’s trust by conducting themselves at the highest level of integrity and decency.”
Authorities say the men wore disguises when they rode their bikes to the vehicles in Ocean Grove and Asbury Park, smashed out the windows and slashed all the tires on Sept. 3 between 3 and 4 a.m.
The vehicles belonged to Ernest G. Mignoli, an outspoken Asbury Park resident critical of the city’s police department. Mignoli, 70, had filed an administrative complaint against both officers several days before the incidents. His “jaw dropped” when he learned that the people responsible for damaging his white Jeep Liberty and Toyota Prius were police officers, he said in an interview with NJ Advance Media last year.The cars suffered $500 in damage, the office said.
Martinsen, a member of the Asbury Park police force since 2013, was suspended without pay when the charges came to light. Dowling, a Class-II special law enforcement officer, was fired.
“The cooperative efforts of the Asbury Park Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office’s Professional Responsibility Unit is a clear example of how effective our current internal affairs policies are,” Asbury Park Police Chief David Kelso said in a statement. “These officers were held accountable for their actions and misconduct and we will continue to hold our officers responsible to build upon the trust of the community that we serve.”
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