By JOHN T. WARD
A former Little Silver police officer now serving time for an attack on a handcuffed man in the borough police station did not get an unfair sentence, a New Jersey appeals court panel ruled Tuesday.
Steven Solari , 42, right, was sentenced to five years in prison in 2014 and ordered to forfeit his $91,000-a-year job and any future prospect for public employment after his conviction on four counts of official misconduct, simple assault and witness tampering.
The case involved a December, 2009 police response to a call from a home on Pinckey Road. There, Solari and Patrolman Justin Bradley found Sean Casey in his mother’s house, “highly intoxicated, making suicidal comments and behaving belligerently,” the appeals court said in its decision.
When Casey lunged at Bradley and resisted arrest, Solari intervened, pepper-spraying him and then punching him repeatedly in the face, causing severe bleeding that left two puddles of blood on the floor, according to the court record.
Taken to the police station, Casey resisted having his photograph taken, which prompted Solari to punch him in the head, causing his head to strike a filing cabinet, according to the decision.
A Monmouth County jury found Solari guilty in October, 2013 of assault as well as official misconduct for failing to take Casey to the hospital instead of the stationhouse. He was also convicted of trying to persuade witnesses to lie about the matter.
Now incarcerated at a state facility in Trenton, Solari is slated for release in March, 2019, according to the state Department of Corrections website.
Solari appealed on numerous grounds, contending among other things that the official misconduct law was unconstitutionally vague. The appeals court rejected that argument.
From the decision:
Here, the indictment charged that defendant purposely delayed getting treatment for an obviously wounded prisoner, assaulted him, falsified a report, and directed a witness to mischaracterize the events. We find no vagueness in the statute, either facially or as applied to defendant, that would prevent him from understanding that such actions would violate his duty as a police officer.
The court also rejected Solari’s claim that his sentence was excessive, saying he “posed a risk of future crimes of violence and dishonesty,” and had neither acknowledged responsibility nor expressed remorse for his criminal conduct.
Here’s the appellate decision: State v Solari 020216