Grand Jury Indicts New Jersey Department of Corrections Police Officer Giuseppe Mandara with Official Misconduct
TRENTON, NJ (STL.News) A state grand jury last week voted to indict New Jersey Department of Corrections Correctional Police Officer Giuseppe Mandara with one count of second-degree official misconduct in connection with an August 23, 2019, physical altercation with a resident at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (ADTC) Special Treatment Unit (STU) in the Avenel section of Woodbridge.
The indictment alleges that Mandara abandoned his equipment, including keys and radio, and thereafter used excessive or unlawful force against the resident. His actions are alleged to have been in violation of New Jersey Department of Corrections policies, procedures, and training for New Jersey Correctional Police Officers.
Several days after the altercation, the resident suffered a fatal stroke. Among other evidence presented, the grand jury heard testimony from the state medical examiner about the cause of the stroke and the manner of death. The grand jury declined to initiate homicide charges for any involved individuals. The investigation is ongoing, and no further information is being released at this time.
The death in custody was investigated by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to the grand jury in accordance with Directive 2019-4, the “Independent Prosecutor Directive,” issued in 2019. In July 2021, OPIA issued standard operating procedures (“SOPs”) to ensure these grand jury presentations are conducted in a neutral, objective manner and with appropriate transparency regarding the process, consistent with the Independent Prosecutor Directive.
Official misconduct in the second degree carries a statutory mandatory minimum, five-year period of parole ineligibility. The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
A 2019 law, P.L. 2019, c. 1, requires the Attorney General’s Office to conduct investigations of a person’s death during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody. It requires that all such investigations be presented to a grand jury to determine if the evidence supports the return of an indictment against the officer or officers involved.
A conflicts check was conducted pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive, and no actual or potential conflict of interest was found involving any individual assigned to the investigation. Prior to presentation to the grand jury, the investigation was reviewed by OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher in accordance with the policies and procedures established for these presentations in the SOPs.
SOURCE: New Jersey Attorney General