O’Donnell, Davis trade heavy blows over Bayonne’s $1.5M police brutality settlement


Bayonne mayoral hopeful Jason O’Donnell and incumbent Jimmy Davis are trading heavy blows over a $1.5 million police brutality settlement that took a yearlong court battle to get released. 

Jason O'Donnell photo via Facebook.
Jason O’Donnell photo via Facebook.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Unfortunately, our mayor is becoming very well-known for blaming others for his reprehensible actions, so his decision to place the blame on the Joint Insurance Fund in this matter is par for the course,” O’Donnell said in a statement.

“No matter who Jimmy Davis may be attempting to hide behind for this latest episode, today’s editorial is correct, ‘It’s unconscionable that a public entity spent thousands of dollars to hide the truth from voters.’ Taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill to fight the release of information that would be beneficial to us all and joint insurance funds need to be forced into a higher standard of transparency than what currently exists.”

On Friday, The Jersey Journal revealed that the city paid $1.5 million to settle a case with Brandon Walsh, a resident who alleged he was a victim of excessive force.

Police Officer Dominic Lillo, who was arrested in January 2015 on excessive force charges, pleaded guilty in September of the same year. He was the main officer in question in the Walsh case.

While a Davis campaign spokesman admitted the information should’ve been released sooner, he questioned how such an incident occurred under O’Donnell’s watch as public safety director.

“While Mayor Davis agrees that this settlement agreement should have been released earlier, the real issue here isn’t about transparency — it’s about the police brutality that occurred in Bayonne while Jason O’Donnell served as Public Safety Director, and how it cost taxpayers millions in legal settlements,” Swibinski said in an email.

“This is just one of several incidents that happened under O’Donnell’s watch, and his failed leadership will continue to cost taxpayers for many years going forward.Even more troubling than the financial costs of these cases was the negative impact they had on the relationship between the police and the community.”

Swibinski further claimed that O’Donnell “was absent on the job” since a recent Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request indicated he issued no memos or directives as the head of the public safety department.

O’Donnell didn’t hesitate to continue the exchange, slamming Davis, a retired police captain, for using the police department “as a pawn in his political game.”

“Over the last four years, Jimmy Davis has shown time and again he is willing to say or do anything to be elected, but he has achieved the impossible, today. In attempting to use our police department as campaign paraphernalia, Jimmy has actually sunk to a new low,” he responded.

” … Plain and simple, our mayor is hoping to continue hiding information from the public until May 9th and the fact that he would stoop to trying to use our police department as a pawn in his political game shows exactly how low he is willing to go.”

Davis’ campaign also claimed that his administration hasn’t faced any use of force lawsuit against the police department under his watch.

The Bayonne municipal elections are on May 8th, with Davis and O’Donnell running full slates and Dr. Mitchell Brown running for mayor as an independent.

Additionally, Zoning Board member Mark Urban is seeking the 3rd Ward council seek as an independent.

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