Camden County Police Officer Charged With Civil Rights Violation And Obstruction Of Justice
CAMDEN, N.J. - A federal grand jury indicted a Camden County police officer for multiple offenses arising from an assault on the streets of Camden, New Jersey, United States Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Nicholas Romantino, 25, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey was charged in a two-count Indictment that was unsealed today. The Indictment alleges that Romantino violated a victim’s civil rights by repeatedly punching the victim in the head and then falsified a police report to cover up the assault. A federal grand jury returned the sealed Indictment on November 7, 2018.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On or about February 22, 2018, Romantino was working in his official capacity as a Camden County Police Officer when he responded to a radio dispatcher’s report of a “man with a gun” in the area of Collings and New Hampshire Roads. Romantino was one of several police officers who responded.
When officers arrived at the location, another officer stopped the victim and told him to put his hands up. The victim complied. Romantino approached the victim from behind and tried to pull his arm behind his back, which startled the victim. The victim reacted by pulling his arm away from Romantino. Romantino then threw the victim to the ground.
Once on the ground, Romantino rolled the victim over onto his stomach at which point another officer grabbed the victim’s legs and a second officer grabbed the victim’s right arm. Romantino grabbed the victim’s left hand.
Romantino, without provocation, punched the victim multiple times in the back of his head. Ultimately, the victim was transported in police custody to Virtua Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, where he received treatment for head injuries, as a result of the punches that he received from Romantino.
After the victim was transported to the hospital, Romantino checked himself into Virtua Hospital where he received treatment for injuries to his right hand, as a result of the punches that he delivered to the victim’s head.
Romantino then returned to the police station to prepare his reports in connection with the victim’s arrest. To justify his actions against the victim, Romantino prepared and submitted a false and fraudulent police report in which Romantino falsely stated that the victim “placed his left hand under his chest and began to try [to] lift himself off the ground. Due to the fact that the male was trying to lift himself up and I was unable to see his right hand I began to strike the male in the head with a closed fist . . . .” Contrary to Romantino’s representations in his report, Romantino held the victim’s left hand while he punched the victim in the back of his head and another officer held the victim’s right arm.
The violation of civil rights count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The false records count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The maximum fine for each of the charges is $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Harpster of the Philadelphia Division, with the investigation leading to today’s indictment. U.S. Attorney Carpenito also recognized the contributions of the Internal Affairs Unit of the Camden County Police Department, under the direction of Chief J. Scott Thomson, and investigators assigned to the Special Prosecution Unit of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Richardson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.