The Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Department of Justice charged former Bordentown NJ police chief Frank Nucera with federal hate crimes. Prosecutors say that while acting as police chief, Nucera assaulted an 18 year old black male. They say the assault was motivated by Nucera’s “hatred” for African Americans. He is charged with felony Deprivation of Civil Rights Under Color of Law and Hate Crime.
The criminal complaint was unsealed on October 31st after Nucera’s arrest. He retired as chief of police earlier this year after the FBI began its investigation.
Civil Rights and Hate Crime Allegations Against Chief Nucera
In September of 2016, an unidentified 18 year old black male was being detained and removed from a hotel in Bordentown. (The court has not released the victim’s name to protect his privacy.) Nucera responded to the scene to assist the officers although there was no evidence that the male was being aggressive or endangering officers at the time of the assault.
The FBI claims that Nucera approached the handcuffed male from behind and slammed his head into a doorjamb.
The incident apparently started after two guests failed to pay for their room and were using the hotel’s swimming pool.
Normally, this would be a simple assault. Because the government believes that the assault was motivated by racial animus, the crime was elevated to a federal hate crime.
An FBI report says “Nucera has a significant history of making racist comments concerning African Americans, to whom he frequently referred as ‘niggers,’ ‘nigs,’ ‘moulinyans’ (an Italian-derived racial slur for African Americans) and ‘moulies.’ Defendant Nucera also made racist comments espousing violence towards African Americans.”
The FBI says that in November 2015, he told another officer within the Bordentown Police Department, “I wish that nigger would come back from Trenton and give me a reason to put my hands on him, I’m tired of ‘em. These niggers are like ISIS, they have no value. They should line them all up and mow ‘em down. I’d like to be on the firing squad, I could do it. I used to think about if I could shoot someone or not, I could do it, I’m tired of it.”
One officer recorded Nucera directing subordinates to walk a police canine through a local apartment complex where several black families reside. He allegedly said to the officer, “Let these fucking moulies see him. Let ‘em see him. I don’t care.”
On the day of the assault, one of the officers was so concerned about Chief Nucera’s racial comments and the condition of the African American male who was assaulted that he began recording the chief.
Within hours of the incident, the officer claims he recorded the chief saying the following:
“I’m fucking tired of them man. I’ll tell you what, it’s gonna get to the point where I could shoot one of these motherfuckers.
“And that nigger bitch lady, she almost got it.
“‘Get back.’ (UI) aunt. Well, I said ‘get back.’
“‘Don’t tell me what to do.’ I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re getting close to getting thrown on the fucking floor too. Get back.’
“’That’s my niece.’ I said, ‘I don’t care who the fuck it is. Get fucking back! Don’t yell at me, one more time.’
“Fucking nipple hanging bitch. I’m so tired of them man.”
While discussing the victim who is from Trenton (predominantly African American) and the victim’s visit to a hotel in Bordentown (11% black), Chief Nucera also told an officer
“Stay the fuck out of Bordentown. Now they can go home and tell them, you can go to Bordentown, they’ll fuck, I just, you know what? It would have been nice if that fucking dog could have come up. ‘Cause they would have stopped, put down. That dog, that dog will stop anything right then and there [makes dog noises]. I’m telling you. You’d have seen two fucking niggers stop dead in their tracks. I love that when they do that. I just love that.”
Incredibly, even when a group of officers later questioned the assault against the 18 year old male, Chief Nucera said the police were called to the hotel “cause of six unruly fucking niggers.”
After his arrest and arraignment, New Jersey’s Acting U.S. Attorney said, “The nobility of police officers is rooted in their selfless commitment to protect our communities and their pledge to honor our constitutional values. As Chief of the Bordentown Township Police Department, the defendant dishonored the profession by doing neither.”
When Police Commit Hate Crimes
This arrest is extraordinary for several reasons.
First, police officers rarely want to testify against other officers. Everyone on the street and in law enforcement knows of the “blue wall of silence.” In this case, it appears that the rank and file officers were very disturbed by what they saw.
We often see civilians or even arrestees recording violent exchanges with the police. Here, the FBI says other officers recorded the exchange.
Next, the case is especially disturbing because the perpetrator was the chief of police. A few bad apples always will find way into law enforcement. We rely on leadership within an agency to quickly spot and weed out the bad actors. Here the problem was the chief himself.
This case is also disturbing because of the level of racial animus.
There is never an excuse for police hate crimes or racial bias. Human nature is such that everyone has a bad day, however. Because of the power they yield, cops aren’t given much leeway when they have a bad day. Nucera’s behavior appears to be more than an isolated incident and involved more than mere words.
Chief Nucera appears to have a deep seated, long standing hatred towards African Americans. A hatred that was so bad that he openly talked about killing people of color and actually assaulted a handcuffed teenager.
There is no universal definition of hate crime. We say a hate crime is any offense or unlawful act that is motivated in whole or substantial part by a person’s, a group’s or a place’s identification with a particular race, color, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, ancestry, national origin or sexual orientation (including gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender).
Assaulting a prisoner because he is black falls into everyone’s definition of hate crime.
Unfortunately, police officers and corrections officers sometimes commit hate crimes. Under federal and state law, police officers can be criminally prosecuted for these bias incidents. In fact, we believe that law enforcement and corrections professionals should be held to a higher standard.
Victim of Police or Jail Guard Hate Crime? You May be Eligible for Damages
In addition to criminal penalties, the federal civil rights law (section 1983) allows victims of police hate crimes to collect civil damages (money).
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury or death because of hate crime committed by public officials, contact us immediately. The time to bring civil rights cases is very limited. In addition, many jails and police departments only keep dash cam, jail cam or body camera videos for a very short period of time. Even if you are well within the statute of limitations (time period) to bring a claim, waiting too long can mean that valuable evidence could be lost.
For a confidential, no obligation consultation, contact us immediately at or by phone at 866.836.4684.
*We remind everyone that Nucera is innocent until proven guilty. Just like the people arrested by police, Chief Nucera enjoys the presumption of innocence. That means the statements in the FBI reports and court are allegations only.