Thursday, May 14, 2009

Newark cop, arrested in 2008, appeals suspension

Newark Police Officer Victor Lopez-Quiros who is listed on Gannett's "DataUniverse" site as having been in public service for 10 years and having made $86,384 in 2008, was suspended from December 4, 2008 and December 28, 2008 for allegedly being involved in two domestic violence incidents involving his wife Lucia Espinosa.

According to the charges, Lopez-Quiros was arrested on December 16, 2008 for aggravated assault and weapons possession. The arrest apparently was related to an incident "approximately three or four years prior to" December 2008 when Lopez-Quiros allegedly pointed his city-issued service revolver at his wife and fired a shot into their mattress as she got out of bed. In another reported incident, Lopez-Quiros allegedly allegedly threatened to kill Espinosa on November 26, 2008 after she told him that she wanted a divorce.

According to the Final Notice of Disciplinary Action issued on December 29, 2008, Lopez-Quiros returned to duty on December 29, 2008.

I have placed the Final Notice of Discipline on-line here.

The hearing on the matter will be heard by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) in early 2009. The OAL has assigned Docket No. CSV1757-09 to the case, and, unless it settles, the matter will eventually be heard by an administrative judge, who will make a recommendation to the Department of Personnel affirming, modifying or reversing the discipline imposed.


I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project which seeks to increase governmental transparency and accountability, particularly at a local level.

As part of my work, I routinely check administrative Civil Service appeal dockets. Most often, the public does not get to see these records. I post them on-line for several reasons: a) because they sometimes reveal official wrongdoing by a government employee, b) because they sometimes suggest that a government agency is using the disciplinary process to retaliate (i.e. file trumped up charges) against an politically or otherwise unpopular employee and c) because these appeals and the underlying disciplinary charges cost public money and the taxpayers ought to be aware of how their money is being spent.

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey---

(Added 05/15/09)

In order to find out more information about the Lopez-Quiros matter, I have submitted the following records requests to the City of Newark today. I will post the results, when received, on this blog.

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey

--Text of Records Request


A recent check of civil service appeals reveals that Newark Police Officer Victor Lopez-Quiros appealed from two periods of suspension from duty—one from December 4, 2008 through December 16, 2008 and one from December 16, 2008 through December 29, 2008. The Final Disciplinary Notice that related to the first period of suspension is numbered “CAP 2008-264/IOP2008-795” and the Final Disciplinary Notice that related to the second period of suspension is numbered “CAP 2008-275/IOP2008-850.” Both matters, on appeal, have been assigned Docket No. CSV-1757-09 by the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law.

CAP 2008-264/IOP2008-795 asserted three charges against Lopez-Quiros that arose out of two “specifications,” both of which referred to incidents occurring on November 26, 2008. According to the charges, Lopez-Quiros on that date was a) arrested “for acts of Domestic Violence; Terroristic Threats, committed against his wife,” and b) “threatened to kill his wife . . . after she told him she wanted a divorce.”

CAP 2008-275/IOP2008-850 asserted five charges against Lopez-Quiros that arose out of three “specifications.” The first specification charges that Lopez-Quiros was arrested again on December 16, 2008 for Domestic Violence, specifically Aggravated Assault and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose.” The second and third specifications refers to an incident “three or four years ago” where Lopez-Quiros allegedly pointed his city-owned service weapon at his wife and “fired one round into their mattress” as she got out of bed.

Both Final Notices of Discipline state that Lopez-Quiros was returned to duty on the day of his suspension hearing: December 16, 2008 and December 29, 2008, respectively. I have difficulty understanding how the Newark Police Department could return an officer to duty after a period of suspension of less than a month’s duration if it was true that he threatened, apparently more than once, to kill his wife, pointed a firearm at her and discharged a round into a mattress.

My difficulty is compounded by the fact that in another disciplinary case currently under appeal the Newark Police Department fired Detective Moraima Medina for having a urine sample that tested positive for marijuana. (See CAP 2008-211/IOP2008-546, OAL Docket No. CSV1487-09). It seems incongruous to me that the Newark Police Department would treat an officer who discharged his service weapon during a domestic violence incident less harshly than a detective who has used a prohibited substance.

Thinking that perhaps the charges and specification don’t reveal the full story, I would like to learn more about the incidents surrounding Lopez-Quiros so that I can better understand what happened.

Records Requested:

1. Any and all CDR-1, CDR-2 or other form of complaints that were filed against Lopez-Quiros arising out of the November 26, 2008 and December 16, 2008 arrests.

2. Any police reports, arrest reports or other writings that relate to the November 26, 2008 and December 16, 2008 arrests.

3. Any records on file that show whether or not the criminal charges filed against Lopez-Quiros have been resolved or dismissed.

4. The complete appeal filing that Lopez-Quiros made to the Department of Personnel/Merit System Board from the two Final Notices of Discipline cited above. (I have only the Final Notices of Discipline and specifications/charges. My thought is that Lopez-Quiros or his attorney may have included other documents in this appeal paperwork that will provide more context).

5. Any responses or replies filed by or on behalf of the City of Newark in this appeal.

Basis for Request:

I request the above records in accordance with the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), the Senator Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act and the common law right of access.


No comments:

Post a Comment