WALL, N.J. – A New Jersey police department is being sued by an ex-cop and a suspended dispatcher, who are accusing a number of the department’s officers of repeatedly using racist language, including referring to African-Americans as “monkeys” and using the N-word.
Communications Supervisor Nicholas Curcio, currently on unpaid leave, and former police officer Suresh Madhavan filed separate complaints against Wall Township and the Wall Township Police Department. Curcio and Madhavan allege they faced discrimination throughout their employment because of their skin tones.
Curcio, who started as a police dispatcher in 1994, has a “darker-skinned, Italian-American complexion” while Madhavan, who was hired in 2003, is Indian-American. Yet both men claimed their co-workers at Wall Police Department repeatedly referred to them as black.
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Wall Township Administrator Jeffry Bertrand said he could not comment on either man’s allegations because of the pending litigation.
Curcio was placed on unpaid leave in August 2016 after he was indicted on charges of official misconduct, improperly using a police database, online stalking and impersonating another person. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is scheduled to start in late October. His most recent salary was $90,308, according to state pension records.
Madhavan worked with Wall until he was fired in July 2016 after accusations that he lied during an internal affairs investigation related to a sex tape his police sergeant made him film, the suit claims. Madhavan denied the allegation in his lawsuit and claimed the disciplinary action against him was an example of the disparate treatment he received compared to his white co-workers.
Curcio filed his initial lawsuit in July but filed an amended complaint last week. His attorney is Ravi Sattiraju, who also represented former Wall employee Brandon Jacobs in a separate discrimination lawsuit against the township.
Wall agreed in May to a $1.25 million settlement with Jacobs, who accused township employees of repeatedly making anti-Semitic comments toward him and putting books about Nazism on his desk.
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Curcio claimed in his lawsuit that his co-workers repeatedly referred to him as “half-black” and said, “you look like a black guy.”.
The lawsuit also claimed Curcio’s co-workers mocked his health conditions. Curcio has Type I diabetes that caused severe discoloration of his legs. He also had five heart surgeries and had artificial parts placed in his heart.
His lawsuit claims co-workers called him “black legs” and suggested he would get a monkey heart during an upcoming surgery.
Curcio also claimed police employees, including supervisors, posted racist drawings at the police department, such as officers with Ku Klux Klan emblems waving to newlyweds driving away dragging black men instead of traditional tin cans.
Another drawing showed two people wearing KKK hoods in a police car that had “Wall Twp. Police” written on the side.
Other postings were targeted at Curcio, according to his lawsuit. One image implied Curcio was arrested for having sex with apes, while another included a photo of two primates, one of which was identified as Curcio.
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Madhavan’s lawsuit claimed he was repeatedly passed over for promotion in favor of white colleagues. Meanwhile, he claimed he faced racial barbs from his fellow officers. Despite being of Indian descent, white officers would call him “Benson” – a reference to a television show with a black protagonist – and use other racial stereotypes toward him, and used the N-word out loud and in emails.
Madhavan’s lawsuit accused the department of using a police code “10-69” to refer to black people.
In the lawsuit, Madhavan also accused an unnamed police sergeant of referring to black people as “monkeys,” “animals” and other racist terms.
His lawsuit accused another sergeant in charge of sensitivity training of referring to black people as “inherently dumb” and “predisposed to criminal activity.”.
Madhavan claims that same sergeant joked that attendees of a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Should be told they “are not being ticketed because they are Democrats” but “because they are black,” according to the suit.
In response to a “racially offensive” picture placed in Madhavan’s locker, the department put a hidden camera in the locker room, according to Madhavan’s complaint.
That camera was the flashpoint for a 2005 federal lawsuit against the township on behalf of several officers and supervisors. The lawsuit settled in 2007 for $145,500, $25,000 of which went to Madhavan, the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press reported at the time.
But it would be a six-second sex tape that would be Madhavan’s undoing, according to his lawsuit.
Madhavan claimed an unnamed sergeant demanded Madhavan film the sex tape in Madhavan’s own home, where the married sergeant would bring his mistress.
Madhavan claimed in the suit that questions from his superiors about the tape – which he says he deleted and never showed anyone other than the sergeant – became an internal investigation, which eventually led to his termination.
FollowSusanne Cervenka and Alex N. Gecan on Twitter: @scervenka and@GeeksterTweets.
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