A former New Jersey police officer was recently sentenced to 42 months in prison for using excessive force during an arrest, falsifying records in an attempt to conceal his conduct, and helping a relative fraudulently obtain a home rehabilitation loan. According to video footage, the officer struck a handcuffed man in the head with a flashlight despite the fact that the restrained man was not resisting.
On December 27, 2013, Bayonne Police Officers Domenico Lillo, Francis Styles, and James Wade arrived at the residence of Brandon Walsh to arrest him on a warrant from Sussex County for failing to appear in court. Video footage captured Lillo striking Walsh in the head with a flashlight after Walsh was handcuffed and not resisting.
Following his arrest, Walsh required 15 stitches as a result of Lillo’s use of excessive force. Lillo later resigned from the department.
In January 2015, Lillo was arrested and charged with deprivation of civil rights under color of law and falsification of records. On September 22, 2015, he confessed to beating Walsh with a flashlight and falsifying a Bayonne Police Department Use of Force Report related to the arrest with the intent to impede an investigation into the case. Lillo also pleaded guilty to helping a relative in preparing and submitting a fraudulent HUD application to get a federally funded rehabilitation loan on a home Lillo co-owned.
“I stand before you with much sorrow and regret…Not only did I ruin my own life, but I also ruined the lives of others,” Lillo stated during his sentencing on Monday. “I’d first like to apologize to my wife and daughter, next to the citizens of Bayonne – who I swore to protect and not harm. I’d also like to apologize to all of my colleagues I used to work with.”
Not specifically named in Lillo’s apology were Walsh and his family. According to the Walsh family’s federal lawsuit, Lillo and other officers unnecessarily and without warning pepper-sprayed them when they entered the home causing everyone, including children, a disabled woman, and the family dog, to become “violently ill.”
Walsh and members of his family sued the city and were awarded at least $1.6 million.
On Monday, Lillo was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty sentenced Lillo to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $20,000 in restitution to the City of Bayonne.
“This is an assault on a helpless man by a police officer,” the judge said at the sentencing. “This is a very serious offense indeed, from my point of view.”