A Bayonne police officer has been suspended without pay after being arrested by federal agents Friday morning on civil rights charges for allegedly beating a suspect with a flashlight in 2013, leaving the man permanently disfigured, reports NJ.com.
Officer Domenico Lillo, 44, was arrested and charged with deprivation of civil rights under color of law and falsification of records related to the arrest of Brandon Walsh in 2013, while Lillo and other officers were executing a warrant.
Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis — a former police officer — said Lillo was immediately suspended without pay after being charged, saying he had been expecting the arrest.
“This was something that you knew sooner or later was coming. And when you’re going to do something like that, this is what gives all police officers a black eye,” Davis said.
In a lawsuit previously filed against Lillo and the Bayonne Police Department, Walsh states that that Lillo repeatedly struck him in the face with a flashlight while he was handcuffed, leading to permanent disfigurement.
According to Walsh, other Bayonne police officers at the scene did nothing to stop the beating.
Federal authorities charged Lillo with falsifying a police department Use of Force Report on the arrest with the intent of impeding the investigation into the case.
The indictment states, Lillo “knowingly concealed, covered up, falsified, and made false entries on a Bayonne Police Department Use of Force Report about the arrest … by not checking the box marked ‘Strike/Use of Baton or other object.”
Walsh attorney Joel Silberman thanked the agencies working on the case– including the FBI and the special agents from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — for investigating and arresting Lillo on behalf of his client.
“Officer Lillo’s assault of Mr. Walsh can only be categorized as vicious and cowardly,” Silberman said. “His arrest sends a clear message that this type of abuse will not be tolerated.”
Lillo faces 10 years in prison for the excessive force charge and a maximum of 20 years for falsifying records if convicted.
Watch video of Police officer Domenico Lillo leaving the courthouse uploaded to YouTube by MennsiHD: