Video: East Newark cop charged with on-duty DUI had wine bottle in police cruiser


An East Newark police officer charged with an on-duty DUI on January 26th after crashing his police cruiser in Harrison had a wine bottle in the passenger seat, police body cam footage of the incident shows.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Did you see the bottle of wine in the car?” Harrison Police Officer Albert Pearson asks his colleague.

“Yes, yes. He was hiding it too … I hate to do this,” replied Harrison Police Officer Gina Versagius, who charged East Newark Police Officer Brian Aparicio with driving under the influence, reckless driving, and failure to consent to a breathalyzer test.

HCV first reported a brief overview of the arrest in February.

“I’m not covering this s*** up, lose my job. Cop or not, it’s doing the right thing,” Pearson stated.

“He has a bottle of wine in the passenger seat of his car, it’s not opened, but now that leads you to believe there were probably other bottles that were drank already, you know what I’m saying?”

Harrison Police Officer Freddy Lecca performed a field sobriety test, which he indicated that he passed, but said he also refused to take a breathalyzer test, noting that Aparicio felt he was being “railroaded” after a prior incident where he hit a pedestrian.

None of the officers handling the arrest elaborated on the prior incident with Aparicio, who has been on the force in East Newark since mid-2012, public records show.

“He said he got the wine as a Christmas gift, but the incident was just over a month later … If he didn’t have the smell and that s*** sitting there, it would’ve been a different story,” Pearson told one of Aparicio’s superiors as he was being arrested.

The Harrison police officers indicated that Aparicio had bloodshot eyes and reeked of alcohol, admitting that he fell asleep at the wheel of the cruiser and rolled into another vehicle around 6 a.m.

In a separate video at the police station, Aparicio says he had two beers the day prior between roughly 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and did not consume any alcohol on the day of his arrest, where he was working the midnight shift.

Sources, who spoke under the condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak on the matter, said that he was initially suspended with pay, but that was changed to without pay about a week-and-a-half after the arrest.

The videos and related police reports were obtained via an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request from Harrison that was submitted on May 15th. However, receiving the records was anything but easy.

After the Town of Harrison denied an initial request in February, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office denied a separate request for the same documents on April 23rd.

“The HCPO Internal Affairs Unit has conducted an investigation of this matter. Any records, video footage etc in the possession of the Internal Affairs Unit are confidential and not subject to disclosure. Therefore, your request is denied,” wrote Chief of Civil Litigation Unit John Libretti.

A subsequent request with Harrison was honored, but only after the municipality asked for five extension requests. In New Jersey, OPRA requests are supposed to be honored in seven business days.

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  1. I’m supposed to be mentally ill and disabled. I am held to a higher standard and would be in far more trouble for doing anything far less serious 😢