A former Bayonne City Hall employee is suing the city, the police department and several cops individually nine months after the prosecutor’s office dismissed a case alleging he struck an officer with his car twice.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The federal complaint, filed in U.S. District Court on Friday, alleges that Michael Mulcahy worked at City Hall until his “unlawful termination” on July 15th, 2015 as a result of political retaliation for supporting former Mayor Mark Smith against Jimmy Davis.
Almost two years later, on May 5th, 2017, Mulcahy spotted a vehicle parked illegally and obstructing the intersection near Judicke’s Bakery, located at 763 Broadway, the lawsuit says.
According to the suit, shortly after Mulcahy began taking pictures, Police Det. Roman Popowski “approached plaintiff angrily” and his “bizarre behavior escalated,” initially refusing to let him leave the scene.
Further claiming that his “behavior then morphed from bizarre to delusional,” Popowski called in backup, alleging that Mulcahy hit him with his car as he drove away, the suit alleges.
As a result, Officers Miguel Camacho and Sgt. Caamano (no first name given) broadcast a description of Mulcahy’s vehicle and plate number to all available units under the guise that he had assaulted an officer, court documents say.
Mulcahy further alleges that Officer Francis Styles, who was accused of falsifying documents to cover up an excessive force incident just 10 days later, pulled him over, arrested him and had his vehicle impounded.
Styles’ case ended with a hung jury, but he remains under indictment as the U.S. Department of Justice mulls over whether or not they seek a retrial.
In the lawsuit, Mulcahy says that he was proactive in getting his case closed, providing the prosecutor’s office with surveillance footage of the incident from a nearby building.
He also alleged that Popowski evoked his 5th Amendment right to remain silent when the prosecutor’s office questioned him about the encounter.
Mulcahy’s suit further states that Popowski had previously pleaded guilty for aggravated assault, though “remarkably” was able to resume his duties as a police officer after serving a suspension.
Finally, the former city Department of Municipal Services employee is suing for retaliation, false arrest and imprisonment, as well as illegal search and seizure, malicious prosecution and municipal liability.
While he has not put a dollar amount on the compensation he is seeking, he is asking for a judgement for any and all damages sustained, including punitive damages, interest – both pre- and post-judgement, attorney’s fees, costs injunctive relief and forcing Bayonne police to participate in programs to “train, instruct, discipline, control and supervise” their officers.
Joel Silberman, Mulcahy’s Jersey City attorney in the matter, said the suit has been brought forward to rectify civil rights violations and for his client to see some formal action against the officers named in the suit.
“Mr. Mulcahy brought this lawsuit in an effort to rectify the civil rights violations that were committed against him by members of the Bayonne Police Department. The named officers have a history of violating of members of the public’s civil rights. The City of Bayonne has failed to take any meaningful action to curb the officers’ improper conduct,” he said.
“Mr. Mulcahy was publicly embarrassed by the charges that were brought against him. Mr. Mulcahy remains thankful to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office who reviewed the matter and administratively dismissed the charges that the officers swore out against him. Mr. Mulcahy seeks justice for himself as well as for others that continue to be victimized by these officers in Bayonne.”
Phil Swibinski, a spokesman for Davis’ campaign, called the lawsuit “a phony political stunt” done on behalf of Jason O’Donnell – the incumbent’s main opposition in the May 8th election.
“This lawsuit is a sham, a scam and a phony political stunt by a desperate candidate and a losing campaign. This is an insult to the Bayonne Police Department, a waste of tax dollars and a serious abuse of the court system.”
“We have an outstanding police department and this lawsuit is a ridiculous and blatantly political abuse of our judicial process,” added Davis. “O’Donnell’s campaign treasurer should apologize to our police officers and our taxpayers for wasting everyone’s time and money.”
According to O’Donnell’s latest campaign finance reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC), his campaign treasurer is Cornelius O’Donnell, however, Mulcahy is the treasurer for the Team O’Donnell account.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated with comments from Mayor Davis and his campaign.