A Little Silver cop charged with assaulting a handcuffed man in the borough police station almost four years ago went on trial in Freehold Tuesday, the Star-Ledger reports.
In her opening statement, Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Melanie Falco told the jury that Patrolman Steven Solari “punched the handcuffed man multiple times because he would not pose for a photo after his arrest,” the Sledger reported.
Solari is also alleged to have told an EMT not to take arrest subject Sean Casey to a hospital, though his head was bleeding, until paperwork had been completed. Later, Solari committed witness tampering when he tried to get an EMT who witnessed the assault to cover it up, the state alleges.
But defense lawyer Edward Bertucio “told the jury that Solari and his partner were dealing with a well-known, violent man who had a history of getting out of control,” according to the Sledger. “Bertucio said the trial would show that Solari was doing what he was trained to do and that there were other motivating factors, including people trying to take his job, which led to his arrest.”
“There is always another side to the story,” Bertucio said.
Solari, a borough resident and volunteer firefighter who is five feet tall and weighs 135 pounds, was arrested in January 2010, nearly three weeks after Casey’s arrest, which had prompted then-Chief Shannon Giblin to initiate an internal investigation of an allegation of excessive force, authorities said at the time. Solari, then 36 years old, was suspended with pay.
The matter was handed off to the prosecutor’s office, and after charges were brought, Solari’s status was changed to suspended without pay.
According to a statement issued by the prosecutor’s office at the time of Solari’s arrest, Solari and another officer responded on December 20, 2009, to a request by Casey’s mother that police check on her son because he had been drinking and was threatening to drive a car.
At the residence, Solari “enagaged in a physical struggle with” Casey during the arrest, the prosecutor’s office said at the time. Later, at the police station, according to the statement, “while the adult male was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, Solari struck the adult male several times, causing the adult male’s head to strike a metal filing cabinet and causing him injury. The adult male was eventually transported to Riverview Medical Center where he wa s treated and later released. The adult male was charged with the disorderly persons offenses of Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest.”
Solari joined the police department as a special officer in 1995 and became a full-time cop in 1999. He is charged with official misconduct, aggravated assault, witness tampering, obstruction of justice and hindering his own apprehension.
In her opening statement, prosecutor Falco said that Solari taught a course to fellow officers on excessive force the day after the incident with Casey.