Wall Twp Police sued for Racist Culture
By Karen Wall – Wall Patch
WALL, NJ — A suspended Wall Township police dispatcher has filed a lawsuit against the police department and the township alleging repeated racist harassment that included mock photo captions implying he was a a monkey and saying he had sex with chimpanzees and gorillas.
It is the second lawsuit alleging rampant racism in the department, according to a report.
The discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of Nicholas Curcio in July by Princeton attorney Ravi Sattiraju, and amended last week, alleges persistent racism and harassement among members of the police department starting from the time Curcio was hired in 1994 as a police dispatcher. He has been on an unpaid suspension from his position as communications supervisor since August 2016, according to the lawsuit, a copy of which was provided to Patch.
According to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office, Curcio is scheduled to go on trial Oct. 25 in connection with an August 2016 indictment on charges of stalking and official misconduct; he is accused of using police information systems to access information about his alleged victim.
Suresh Madhavan, meanwhile, also has sued the department alleging discrimination and pervasive racism in the department. He also alleges the department did nothing to address persistent harassment from a sergeant who forced Madhavan to take a video recording of the married sergeant having sex with his mistress at Madhavan’s home, according to an Asbury Park Press report.
Madhavan, who is Indian-American, was the only officer of color when he was hired in 2003, according to his lawsuit. He was fired in February 2016 following an internal affairs investigation into the sex tape, which he said he deleted and never showed to anyone but the sergeant.
“Wall Township takes every one of these allegations very seriously,” said Jeff Bertrand, Wall Township administrator. “We were not aware of the amended complaint until yesterday (Tuesday) when we received a call from the media, but we are reviewing the document.”
Madhavan’s lawsuit alleges a pattern of behavior that included repeated derogatory language and racial slurs toward people of color from multiple officers. Madhavan alleges the sergeant who harassed him used code words to reference when a black person was the suspect in a crime and regularly used the “n—–” word. He also alleges the department ignored accusations of domestic violence against the sergeant and alleged drunken driving.
Jeffery Downs, the Mullica Hill attorney representing Madhavan, declined to comment Wednesday beyond saying they were looking to the courts and a jury to resolve the issues.
The suit by Curcio alleges the racism and harassment went far beyond words.
He alleges there was a drawing posted in the department that showed to people wearing Ku Klux Klan hoods and driving a car labeled Wall Township police. There was a second drawing of a police officer and his bride driving off following their wedding, with three officers waving goodbye. Behind the car, are two black men, bound and gagged, being dragged where tin cans are traditionally dragged by a newly married couple.
Those drawings are among the exhibits submitted with Curcio’s lawsuit.
Exhibits from the Nicholas Curcio lawsuit
Also submitted: a mocked-up letter on official Wall Township Police Department letterhead dated December 1996 saying Curcio was to report for questioning to explain his “whereabouts” on a date in which “30 angry baboons killed a man out of revenge” in Uganda.
Also included is a mocked-up photo caption accusing Curcio of having sex with chimpanzees, gorillas and monkeys and a drawing on a get-well card from the police department of a gorilla in a cage and with a tag saying it was Curcio. Also in the exhibits with the lawsuit were graphic drawings of male genitalia on message boards in the department, with one drawing going so far as to imply Curcio’s father had molested him.
Curcio is of Italian-American descent and has olive-colored skin, according to the lthe lawsuit, and also has Type I diabetes, which has caused a discoloration of his legs that makes the skin black. In the lawsuit, he alleges he was subjected to comments asking him if he was “half-black.”
In the lawsuit, he alleges he also was subjected to persistent insults and harassment due to his health conditions, which included heart issues that resulted in five surgeries and artificial parts put in his heart.
“Plaintiff was called ‘Monkey,’ or some derivation thereof, on a daily basis to ridicule the fact that he had artificial parts in his heart,” the lawsuit alleges, and the exhibits include “get-well” cards that included comments such as “Guess your (sic) gonna need a new monkey heart. They should probably replace it with a monkey brain while they’re at it,” “If they use a baboon heart, I guess your body won’t reject it,” and other more graphic and vicious comments. One person wrote “two saves in two days, maybe the next time will be the charm,” and on a birthday card, someone wrote, “I hope you die today.”
The lawsuits have not specified the damages sought.