Public Notices and Press Releases

NJ Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violations

Admission of Excessive Force in Two Arrest Incidents Leads to Federal Guilty Plea

In a significant acknowledgment of misconduct, Kevin Patino, a 32-year-old officer from the Paterson Police Department, admitted in Newark federal court to violating the civil rights of individuals during two separate arrest incidents. This plea was announced today by U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, marking a pivotal moment in addressing police brutality and ensuring accountability within law enforcement.

Before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, Patino pleaded guilty to two counts of civil rights violations, stemming from excessive force used in arrests on November 26 and December 14, 2020, in Paterson, New Jersey. These incidents, which were deemed unjustified uses of force, have brought to light the pressing need for adherence to constitutional rights and the protection of individuals from undue harm by those sworn to serve.

The first incident involved an altercation where Patino responded to a backup call, leading to the unnecessary and excessive physical assault of a non-threatening individual. Similarly, the second incident detailed an unwarranted aggressive encounter initiated by Patino against another person who posed no danger, further exemplifying a disregard for the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The guilty plea acknowledges the severe breach of trust and duty, with each count of civil rights violations carrying a potential penalty of one year in prison and fines up to $100,000. Sentencing is scheduled for July 23, 2024, which will likely serve as a moment of reckoning for the actions taken by Patino and a reminder of the legal and moral obligations of law enforcement officers.

This case has been supported and investigated by a coalition of law enforcement and legal entities, including the FBI, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, and the North Jersey Public Corruption Task Force. The collaborative effort underscores the commitment to upholding civil rights and the pursuit of justice for victims of police misconduct.

Represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bernard J. Cooney and Joseph Gribko, this prosecution not only seeks to address the wrongs committed but also aims to reinforce the principle that law enforcement officials must conduct themselves in a manner that respects the rights and dignity of all individuals.

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