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Six Correctional Police Officers Charged in Inmate Assault at the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility

By kbm0423 on
Chesterfield Township

Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced criminal charges against six correctional police officers in connection to an incident in which an unjustified use of force was used against an inmate at the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility in Chesterfield Township on April 8, 2020.

A total of 6 defendants—including Correctional Police Sergeant Michael Emmert and five Senior Correctional Police Officers—have been charged in an ongoing joint investigation by the Department of Corrections (DOC) Special Investigations Division (SID) and the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA), stemming from information obtained and developed by the DOC SID.

According to officials, at approximately 12:05 a.m. on April 8, 2020, DOC officers assigned to the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility in the Township of Chesterfield allegedly conducted a forced cell extraction of an inmate. 

The six defendants allegedly participated in a forced cell extraction and filed false reports intended to deceive others within the DOC into believing that the use of force was justified. 

Officials stated that during an initial approach, Sergeant Emmert allegedly sprayed the victim with Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray without giving the victim any opportunity to comply and despite the victim offering to be handcuffed. 

The remaining defendants allegedly joined a five-person suited team, which re-approached the victim’s cell. Sergeant Emmert allegedly sprayed the victim with OC again without giving the victim an opportunity to comply. 

The defendants then allegedly entered the cell and forcibly removed the victim. 

According to the complaints filed, the victim screamed in pain and left his cell covered in blood, was given an inhaler and oxygen in the infirmary, and was treated for lacerations on his face. 

DOC policy permits the use of force that is objectively necessary and reasonable; it requires that an inmate be given an opportunity to comply before a forced cell extraction proceeds.

“Correctional police officers are entrusted with great authority over the inmates in their custody, and when they abuse that power, they must be held accountable,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. 

“I want to thank the Office of Public Integrity & Accountability and Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division for investigating and bringing charges in this matter.”

The following individuals were charged on May 25, 2022, by complaint-summons as follows:

Correctional Police Sergeant Michael Emmert, 37, of Toms River, N.J.

  • Aggravated Assault (2 counts – 3rd degree)
  • Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd degree)

The complaint against Emmert alleges the following conduct:

Emmert was the leader of the extraction team and approached the cell of Victim 1 with two other officers. 

Victim 1 offered his hands and stated his intent to be handcuffed, but Emmert did not allow Victim 1 to leave the cell voluntarily and gave no orders. 

Rather, Emmert sprayed Victim 1 in the face with Oleoresin Capsicum (OC). Emmert left and returned with a five-person suited team. 

Again without offering Victim 1 an opportunity to comply, Emmert deployed OC spray on Victim 1 a second time, then supervised as the team entered the cell and forcibly removed Victim 1.

In his preliminary incident report, Emmert falsely stated that Victim 1 refused orders to be handcuffed, blocked a food port, and attempted to “mule kick” a shield, which is contradicted by video and photographic evidence. 

By filing a false report, Emmert intended to deceive others within the DOC into believing that his use of force on Victim 1 was justified. 

Senior Correction Police Officer Christopher Toth, 37, of New Egypt, N.J.

  • Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd degree)

The complaint against Toth alleges the following conduct:

Toth approached the cell of Victim 1 in a team of two other officers, led by a Sergeant. Toth was holding a shield. 

Victim 1 offered his hands and stated his intent to be handcuffed. Rather than handcuffing and allowing him to leave the cell voluntarily, the Sergeant sprayed Victim 1 with Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) in the face. Toth used his shield to hold Victim 1 in his cell as the door closed. 

Toth left and returned as part of a five-person suited team; Toth was the first officer in the stack.

In his special custody report, Toth falsely stated that Victim 1 was sprayed with OC “in order to gain compliance, which was not effective,” knowing that Victim 1 was not given any opportunity to comply. 

Toth also falsely stated, “As I entered the cell, [Victim 1] tried to kick me and turned to hit me.” 

By filing a false report, Toth intended to deceive others within the DOC into believing that the use of force on Victim 1 was justified. 

Senior Correction Police Officer Raymond Quinones, 43, of Beachwood, N.J.

  • Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd degree)

The complaint against Quinones alleges the following conduct:

Quinones joined a five-person suited team after Victim 1 was sprayed with OC during an initial approach, which re-approached Victim 1’s cell. 

The Sergeant sprayed Victim 1 with OC again without giving Victim 1 an opportunity to comply. Quinones then entered the cell and forcibly removed Victim 1.

In his special custody report, Quinones falsely stated that when the team arrived at Victim 1’s cell, he “refused to cuff up” and “[w]hen the cell door opened, [Victim 1] was combative,” knowing that Victim 1 was not given any opportunity to comply. 

By filing a false report, Quinones intended to deceive others within the DOC into believing that the use of force on Victim 1 was justified. 

Senior Correction Police Officer Michael Gaines, 56, of Willingboro, N.J.

  • Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd degree)

The complaint against Gaines alleges the following conduct:

Gaines joined a five-person suited team after Victim 1 was sprayed with OC during an initial approach, which re-approached Victim 1’s cell. 

The Sergeant sprayed Victim 1 with OC a second time, again without giving Victim 1 any opportunity to comply. Gaines then entered the cell and forcibly removed Victim 1.

In his special custody report, Gaines falsely stated that when the team arrived at Victim 1’s cell, he “was ordered to comply” and was sprayed, knowing that Victim 1 was not given any opportunity to comply. 

By filing a false report, Gaines intended to deceive others within the DOC into believing that the use of force on Victim 1 was justified. 

Senior Correction Police Officer Mark Sadlowski, Jr., 44, of Sewell, N.J.

  • Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd degree)

The complaint against Sadlowski alleges the following conduct:

Sadlowski joined a five-person suited team after Victim 1 was sprayed with OC during an initial approach, which re-approached Victim 1’s cell. 

The Sergeant sprayed Victim 1 with OC a second time, again without giving Victim 1 any opportunity to comply. Sadlowski then entered the cell and forcibly removed Victim 1.

In his special custody report, Sadlowski falsely stated that when the team arrived at Victim 1’s cell, he “refused to handcuff” and that “[w]hen the door opened, the inmate was combative,” knowing that Victim 1 was not given any opportunity to comply. 

By filing a false report, Sadlowski intended to deceive others within the DOC into believing that the use of force on Victim 1 was justified. 

Senior Correction Police Officer Michael Ambrozaitis, 58, of Southampton, N.J.

  • Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd degree)

The complaint against Ambrozaitis alleges the following conduct:

Ambrozaitis joined a five-person suited team after Victim 1 was sprayed with OC during an initial approach, which re-approached Victim 1’s cell. 

The Sergeant sprayed Victim 1 with OC a second time, again without giving Victim 1 any opportunity to comply. Ambrozaitis applied leg irons to Victim 1.

In his special custody report, Ambrozaitis falsely stated that when the team arrived at Victim 1’s cell and the cell door opened, Victim 1 “refused to comply,” knowing that Victim 1 was not given any opportunity to comply. 

By filing a false report, Ambrozaitis intended to deceive others within the DOC into believing that the use of force on Victim 1 was justified. 

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.