Thursday, May 15, 2008
Attempt To Resolve Harrison
Police Brutality Incident
Witnesses Unwilling To Speak With Police Chief
Two weeks ago, in the May 1st issue of The Guardian, the Advocate column, in a piece entitled, “Harrison: A Town Under Siege By Its Police Department,” had revealed an incident which had occurred three weeks earlier. Witnesses had alleged that Harrison Police Captain
Anthony Marraccini, while off-duty and dressed in civilian clothing, had engaged in the brutal beating, together with his brother-in-law
Robert Luiso, of 21-year-old Harrison town employee John Carollo in the roadway of Halstead Avenue, outside Al Dente Bar & Restaurant,
at 1:30 in the morning in the pouring rain. Marraccini was reported to have been drinking, and to have instigated the incident, dragging
Carollo outside the bar and holding him down while Luiso repeatedly kicked the youngster about his head and face.
The Guardian received information that Town Supervisor Joan Walsh had reportedly called upon Police Chief Dave Attempt To Resolve Harrison Police Brutality Incident Witnesses Unwilling To Speak With Police Chief Hall to open an investigation into the incident in light of our exclusive published report, and the fact that individuals had contacted her office indicating that they had witnessed the incident, and were
willing to speak to police, but that Hall had refused her request. That information prompted The Guardian to contact Hall.
Reached at his of-fice, Harrison Police Chief Hall confirmed that Supervisor Walsh had contacted him and requested an investigation into the beating of Carollo, but he denied having refused to proceed. Hall claimed that Supervisor Walsh had refused to turn over the names of the witnesses because they were unwilling to speak with him. He further advised The Guardian that he had not received any complaint,
and that he had statements from other individuals who indicated that the victim, Carollo, had been “belligerent and aggressive.”
We pointed out the reality that witnesses who were willing to come forward with unfavorable information about someone with Marraccini’s high rank, reputation, and influence in the police department, would justifiably be concerned about making their disclosure, while Marraccini
was actively engaged carrying a gun and a badge. We suggested that Hall might suspend him, with pay, while an investigation of the incident, and his role in it, was in progress. We advised him that we would attempt to reach Supervisor Walsh, and would get back to him.
Reached at her office, and informed by The Guardian that Chief Hall had claimed that he had not gone forward with her requested investigation into the Carollo incident because she had refused to give him the names of those who had approached her, Walsh explained
that she would not be unwilling, but that the witnesses specifically indicated that they did not want to be interviewed by Hall, but had
named two Harrison police offi-cers they would be willing to speak to. Walsh made a point of stating that she had not taken the accounts of the incident from the witnesses.
Having clarified the issue with Walsh, The Guardian immediately got back to Chief Hall. Hall repeated his earlier claim that he had not received a complaint, either from the alleged victim, or anyone else and then, referring to Walsh, he asked, “Why doesn’t she go to the DA’s Of-fice?” We reminded Hall that most Harrison residents have come to understand the relationship of the DA’s Office to the activities of his
department, specifically involving disputes between high-ranking of-ficers and rank and file police, as well as civilians. We then reiterated
our continuing position that if any outside agency should be involved, it was the FBI, given the civil rights implications of the alleged incident.
There followed several barbs back and forth. Hall repeated his earlier claim that nobody had filed a complaint, not even the bar owner,
who he volunteered was also injured. He did, however, finally agree to permit Harrison police officers other than himself to interview the
witnesses Walsh was aware of. Having secured that understanding with Hall, we proceeded to immediately re-contact Supervisor Walsh to inform her. Walsh responded favorably, but asked if the interviewing officers might be two that the witnesses had specified. We indicated that having secured the Chief ’s agreement to proceed with an investigation without his having to personally interview the witnesses,
we did not feel that we were in the position to determine those who would interview, but that we were confident that she could “negotiate
an acceptable outcome.”
The Guardian will continue to closely monitor developments.