Fault Lines
18 August 2017

Officer Nicholas Maresca Can’t Take a Joke

December 8, 2016 (Fault Lines) — One would be ill-advised to prank Officer Nicholas Maresca Jr. of the Hopatcong Police Department. Maresca has been charged with assault following last month’s viral video prank.

Having a warrant for his arrest, Kevin Hemmerich decided to make the best of a dreadful situation. On November 17, 2016, Hemmerich arrived at the Hopatcong police station wearing a bunny suit and toting an air horn. His brother Jason accompanied him, complete with a cell phone and Facebook live. Ah to be a product of the internet generation!

Hemmerich arrived and prepared to check in at the window. Not finding the customary “ring bell for service” sign or any type of bell for that matter, Hemmerich utilized the next best thing: his air horn. Stating he was turning himself in on a warrant, he continued to blow the air horn several times. Long bursts. Short bursts. Just having fun. His brother even egged him on. Everyone knows going to jail sucks, so why not make it fun? At least that was Hemmerich’s theory. Surprisingly, it took many bursts and several minutes to get the attention he needed.

“This isn’t as fun as I thought it would be,” Hemmerich is heard saying on the video.

“More fun when the cops come, I guess,” his brother, Jason, who was filming the incident, responds.

Eventually, it did get more fun. Maresca and patrolman Chris Lottito entered the waiting area.

Maresca immediately inquired, “Who’s blowing the fucking air horn?” Hemmerich immediately took full credit, and Maresca demanded to know why he was doing it. Hemmerich went one step too far. No, he didn’t blow the air horn again; he had left it on the windowsill in lieu of a “ring bell for service.” Instead, Hemmerich simply responded, “I don’t know.” Well, Maresca was having none of that!

“You don’t know?” Maresca asks, before striking Hemmerich once with an open, gloved hand. “You don’t fucking know?”

Jason, still on Facebook live, immediately told Maresca he’s on video.

“I don’t fucking care.”

Of course he doesn’t care. That’s because Maresca can’t take a joke. He doesn’t understand Facebook live. He isn’t part of the internet generation. He doesn’t like pranks. And he’s not the only one.

Finding the viral video via YouTube, Bill B. commented, “Maybe if your brother acted like an adult instead of a childish douche, he wouldn’t have gotten bitch slapped.”

Yeah, Hemmerich probably was childish. Yeah, maybe he asked for it. Of course he went in there looking for a response. And guess what? Maresca took the bait! Yeah, he bitch slapped Hemmerich.

No aggressive moves. No antagonizing or vulgar language. Hemmerich was just having fun. Maresca was just being a cop.

“Officer Maresca’s actions on that evening were appropriate under the circumstances and in accordance with his training and experience as a police officer,” [Maresca’s attorney] said on Monday. “We are confident that when this matter proceeds to trial, Officer Maresca will be vindicated of the charge.”

Appropriate. In accordance with his training and experience. Of course! That’s what officer’s usually say. Surprisingly, he didn’t say he was in fear for his life. But nonetheless, apparently justified and appropriate. It makes you wonder what class at the police academy focused on dealing with pranksters? Or maybe it was his training on the street? Cops must run into tricksters regularly and gain the experience to deal with them. It’s always best to haul off and hit them, right? That’s certainly in keeping with the de-escalation procedures taught across the country.

Maresca will remain on administrative duty pending resolution of the charge. The penalty for simple assault in New Jersey is a fine, not to exceed $1,000, and the possibility of up to one year in jail.

Wait a minute. If this was in keeping with his training and experience and was appropriate, why is Maresca on administrative duty? Why does he face assault charges?

Oh yeah, that’s because it’s no longer Maresca’s word versus Hemmerich’s. There is video. Yeah, it’s not a dash cam or body cam. But apparently Facebook live can be just as effective at catching police misconduct.

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