Two New Jersey police officers are accused of wearing disguises and vandalizing the vehicles of an elderly man who had filed a complaint against them, NJ Advance Media reports.
Ernest Mignoli said that the tires were recently slashed on his Toyota Prius and Jeep Liberty. He said his “jaw dropped” when he learned that the alleged vandals responsible for the damage to his vehicles were Asbury Park police officers.
It remains unclear, as of this writing, how it was determined that the men allegedly responsible for the damage were identified.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office charged officers Stephen Martinsen, 29, and Thomas Dowling, 26, with a variety of offenses related to the September 3 incident. Authorities said they wore disguises and rode their bicycles to the scene of the crime. The nature of those disguises was not made known.
Authorities said in a press release that the vandalism was done in retaliation for Mignoli having filed complaints against the officers.
“The vehicle owner had filed an administrative complaint against both officers several days before the vandalism incidents.”
Asbury Park police Chief David Kelso said that the actions of two of his officers should not become a stain on the entire department.
“We will not let the actions of these officers overshadow the great work and dedication by the men and women of this department,” he said.
Dorian in the Atlantic = amazing sunset in Asbury Park. pic.twitter.com/CXwFA0xDrR— Jon Scher (@JonScher) September 5, 2019
Mignoli admitted that he’s been a thorn in the side of the Asbury Park Police Department for years now, saying he’s been keeping a “watchful eye” on the department for over a decade.
“I’m a concerned citizen, outspoken critic of Asbury Park Police Department,” he said.
Further, he said that he’s “constantly harassed” by the police due to the nature of his work.
According to New York City’s WPIX-TV, Mignoli is a retired college professor and freelance journalist, whose troubles with the two officers accused of slashing his tires began last week, outside of a bar. The men, according to Mignoli, were “taking advantage of the fact that we can drink, be drunk and be rowdy,” so he reported them.
As for the two police officers, one of them, Martinsen, has been suspended without pay. The other, Dowling, has been fired. Neither man responded to phone calls for comment.
In addition to the damage done to their police careers, both men are also facing weapons, criminal mischief and conspiracy charges. As of this writing, neither has been scheduled for a court date. If convicted of the most serious charges, either or both could face up to 20 years in prison.