The state appellate court has upheld a lower court’s decision that said a former Hoboken police officer was justly fired back in 2012 after filing a false police report regarding his then-girlfriend while he was on duty, also later lying about the incident.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“It was undisputed that plaintiff’s termination arose from two incidents involving disputes between … his former girlfriend that resulted in disciplinary charges being brought against him based upon plaintiff lying to his superiors about one incident and a final restraining order (FRO) being issued,” Appellate Judges Joseph L. Yannotti and Gary S. Rothstadt wrote in an August 16th ruling.
The first incident involving Daniel Chirino, who began working as a Hoboken police officer in January 2008, occurred on October 1, 2011.
At the time, his then-girlfriend allegedly told him she was going to commit suicide, prompting him to show up to her Jersey City home immediately while in uniform and still on the clock, court documents say.
The woman, identified only as M.C., was also at her residence with a man, referred to only as J.A., who got into a verbal altercation with Chirino and ultimately led to Jersey City police arriving on the scene, records show.
Subsequently, Chirino denied ever being in Jersey City while on duty in Hoboken, asserting that J.A. had filed a false complaint against him, the ruling says.
Chirino was later sent to counseling after he told officers for Hoboken Internal Affairs he was experiencing suicidal thoughts himself, which led to him being place on “light duty” for three months – which included having his service weapon removed from his home, according to court documents.
Calls between Chirino and M.C. on November 25th, 2011, led to M.C. allegedly letting herself into Chirno’s apartment and assaulting him, resulting in a restraining order against each party that went into effect on December 22, 2011.
Further investigation into this incident led to internal affairs again questioning Chirino about his whereabouts on October 1st, 2011, where he finally admitted he went to Jersey City while on duty.
Former Hoboken Public Safety Director Jon Tooke issued a report on September 14th, 2012, calling Chirino’s actions in connection to M.C. a “serious breach of acceptable standards of conduct” that “undermine the respect for law enforcement in general and
tarnish the reputation of the [HPD] in particular.”
Despite all these facts, Chirino’s lawsuit alleged that he was terminated because he was Hispanic, contending that caucasian officers who had made similar mistakes were not fired – also indicating that then-Mayor Dawn Zimmer played a role in his fate.
While another ex-public safety director for Hoboken, Angel Alicea, had won a $1 million discrimination lawsuit against the Zimmer administration in December 2013 (later scaled back to $700,000 on appeal), both Alicea and Zimmer had testified that she had nothing to do with Chirino’s firing.
For this reason, testimony in Alicea’s case was ruled inadmissible in Chirino case.
Furthermore, the appellate court pushed back against Chirino’s assertion that other officers of a different race did not lose their jobs, noting that “all three of those officers were also minorities including two who were Hispanic.”
“Plaintiff presented no evidence that Zimmer was involved in plaintiff’s termination and allowing any testimony about the Alicea lawsuit would have been not only contrary to the law of the case, but also unduly prejudicial under Rule 403 …,” the appellate judges concluded.
“Finally, to the extent we have not specifically addressed any of plaintiff’s remaining arguments, we conclude they are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion.”
Chirino was originally represented by Louis Zayas, the same attorney who represented Alicea. Zayas passed away suddenly in November of last year after a long bout with cancer.