Mountainside, NJ - A lawsuit filed by six police officers from the Mountainside Police department revealed a culture of corruption and sadistic hazing within the department. According to the lawsuit, supervisors took part in degrading pranks on other officers, which included smacking officers with a giant blue dildo that they named "big blue," as well as defecating in the shoes of officers, and in some cases sodomizing them with flashlights. Now, because police departments fail to hold themselves accountable, 5 cops are getting $2.45 million in taxpayer money in the form of a settlement.
Officers Jeffrey Stinner, Christopher Feighner, Richard Latargia, Thomas Norton and James Urban, and administrative assistant Amy Colineri — previously a dispatcher — said in the lawsuit they were subjected to a hostile work environment and retaliation, according to NJ.com.
The settlement states that Mountainside denies all wrongdoing, and that both sides agreed to it “for the purpose of avoiding the burden and expense of litigation.”
The claims of these officers are supported by video evidence, which shows Sgt. Andrew Huber and Lt. Thomas Murphy smacking an officer in the face with a blue dildo as then-Borough Police Chief Allan Attanasio did nothing to intervene. Murphy can be seen laughing and taking out his cellphone to record the encounter. In another video, Murphy was dressed up like Santa Claus for a holiday party, and handed out dildos to officers as "gifts."
Huber was named multiple times in the lawsuit and was accused of defecating in another officer's boots and placing his testicles on other officers' food on multiple occasions. Huber reportedly called the act of defiling his subordinates food "braining," and he would usually take a photo of his genitals on the food and show the photo to the victim after they had eaten their lunch. Huber would even walk around the bathroom naked, taunting officers while swinging a dildo and throwing feces around.
In one incident, Huber reportedly chased the local fire chief around police headquarters with "Big Blue."
Ironically, Huber was in charge of the department's internal affairs investigation unit, which is tasked with policing the behavior of the officers and punishing them when they get out of line. Huber's actions show just how much of a farce the internal affairs unit was, and it is likely that this is not unique to the Mountainside Police Department.
"[Huber] while sitting on the toilet, would fling excrement soiled toilet paper," plaintiff Christopher Feighner, states in the lawsuit.
Huber also worked with children as an officer for the school district and coached children's sports teams.
If you think that it could not get any worse, Lt. Thomas Murphy is accused of sodomizing multiple officers with a flashlight.
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"Murphy had a practice of taking his flashlight and ramming it into the anus area of other male officers while at police headquarters,” the lawsuit states.
One plaintiff, James Urban, said that it hurt for him to sit down after an encounter with Murphy. It was also alleged that many officers would walk with their backs against the wall to avoid being victimized by the flashlight.
The lawsuit states that the chief of police was informed about many of these issues, but no action was taken. The allegations also include blatant racism on the part of multiple supervisors.
Murphy was was suspended without pay upon the borough filing disciplinary charges against him and retired earlier this year, Mayor Paul Mirabelli said Tuesday.
In a statement posted on the borough's website, officials announced that Murphy and Huber have been suspended.
"For my part, I can state without equivocation that I deny any suggestion I acted in any way improperly or failed to discharge my duties and functions as an elected Councilperson and as the Mountainside Councilperson who is the liaison to the Police Department," Councilman and Police Commissioner Keith Turner said at the time, defending the officers.
"The citizens of Mountainside know full well the quality and integrity of the people who have served them and the recklessly asserted characterizations in a lawsuit will not change that knowledge," Turner added.
But as this settlement and video shows, Turner was wrong.