Hackensack stood by violent cop husband who threatened to kill wife, lawsuit says
HACKENSACK — A police officer who said her department did nothing after her violent and abusive cop husband allegedly threatened to kill her, claims she was asked to resign while he remained on the job.
Sgt. Sara Malvasia says in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed this month that her husband Niles suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing a shooting while on the job for the Hackensack Police Department. As a result, he began to act "erratically and violently" and directed his paranoia and anger towards her.
According to the lawsuit, Niles Malvasia called his wife at work repeatedly, yelled at her in front of co-workers and accused her of having an affair. Last spring, he shoved her into a closet, causing her to get a bloody eye, the lawsuit says. He also threw a 70-inch television into a wall and berated her for the entire night, she claims.
He also threatened to "f--k you up in front of everyone" and "physically restrained" his wife, preventing her from going to work, she said.
When she reported the incident to Hackensack Police Director Michael Mordaga, she says he blamed for the incident.
“There’s always female shit going on. That’s why women can’t be police officers," Sara Malvasia said Mordaga told her.
She was later told by Capt. Frank Aquila that her husband had threatened to kill her, the lawsuit says.
According to the lawsuit, Niles Malvasia tore up a protection order his wife took out against him and proceeded to destroy the porch of their home while officers watched but did nothing.
Police departments in the state follow Attorney General's Office guidelines on investigating domestic violence within their ranks. Police officers are supposed to get annual training on "potential indicators or early warning signs of domestic violence behavior by law enforcement officers" and how to investigate complaints.
Departments are supposed to "provide non-punitive avenues of assistance to officers, their partners, and other family members" involved in domestic violence situations, according to the state's model policy. Officers found to have committed acts of domestic violence are supposed to be referred to a psychologist or counselor, who must attempt to notify the victim and prepare a report for the county prosecutor.
A separate but related state directive requires that any officer criminally charged with domestic violence must have all personal and service weapons seized or surrendered.
According to the lawsuit, Niles Malvasia was never charged with a crime relating to his wife's allegations.
The public may never know how the department handled Sara Malvasia's complaints, or whether her husband was ever disciplined, because police agencies in New Jersey keep most internal affairs records secret.
When Sara Malvasia was able to return to work in November, Malvasia was instead asked to retire with a disability on the grounds she was unfit for duty because of her suicide attempt, which she said was a result of the treatment by her husband. She refused and was placed on unpaid suspension.
Mordaga along with Officer in Charge Timothy Lloyd, Lt. James Prise, Aquila, and David Troast and Theodore Ehrenburg, who both served as city managers during the time of incidents mentioned in the suit, were all named as defendants.
Sara Malvasia seeks to be compensated for an unspecified amount for pain, suffering, past economic loss, future economic loss, back pay, front pay, wage increases, benefits, lost pension monies, loss of life’s pleasures, loss of reputation, benefits, emotional distress and other damages plus court and attorney fees.
Niles Malvasia, a police officer since 1999, earns a base salary of $140,000. Sara Malvasia, an officer since 1998, was earning $149,000.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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