Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced charges against two correctional police officers related to an incident in which inmates were assaulted and seriously injured at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in the early morning of Jan. 12.
Between approximately 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 and 1:15 a.m. on Jan. 12, DOC officers and supervisors assigned to the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility (EMCF) in Clinton allegedly conducted forced cell extractions of inmates located in the Restorative Housing Unit (RHU) complex.
A total of 10 corrections officers now have been charged in the ongoing criminal investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office, conducted with the assistance of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) Special Investigations Division, according to a statement released on April 27.
Lt. Eddie Molina, 42, of East Brunswick, and Sgt. Andraia Bridges were involved in the forced cell extractions, according to new information provided on April 27.
Molina was charged with two counts of second-degree official misconduct, and third-degree tampering with public records or information.
The complaint against Molina alleges that he failed to prevent and report the excessive use of force and assaultive conduct by other corrections officers committed in his presence during the forced cell extraction of Victim 2, who was housed in the RHU, according to the statement.
In addition, he allegedly falsely reported to the DOC regarding that forced cell extraction by sending an email about the extraction that he knew contained false information, according to the statement.
On Jan. 12 at approximately 12:07 a.m., a five-person suited team of correction officers from EMCF performed a forced cell extraction for Victim 2. Molina was the supervising corrections officer present for the extraction. Victim 2 was pepper sprayed and was not given an opportunity to comply before the team made entry into her cell, in violation of DOC policy, according to the statement.
Members of the extraction team subsequently used excessive and unreasonable force during the extraction, resulting in injury, in violation of DOC policy, which only allows for the objectively reasonable and necessary use of force, according to the charges.
Molina reportedly failed to intervene to prevent this unauthorized use of force despite his legal duty to do so, according to the statement. As Victim 2 was removed from her cell, she is seen in video footage with visible facial injuries and is clearly heard informing those present about her injuries.
Molina later sent an email to other DOC officers and employees that falsely reported what occurred during the forced cell extraction of Victim 2, including not revealing that pepper spray was used without giving her an opportunity to comply, that unnecessary and unreasonable force was used, and that Victim 2 suffered injuries as a result, according to the allegations.
Bridges, 44, of North Plainfield, was charged with second-degree official misconduct.
“When we first announced charges in this criminal investigation, I promised that we would follow the evidence wherever it leads and charge everyone responsible for these unjustified, brutal attacks. That is exactly what we are doing,” Grewal said in the statement. “Our investigation continues to produce results, as these charges demonstrate, and we are far from done.”
“The alleged actions of the defendants during these heinous attacks on inmates were completely unconscionable — whether they inflicted harm or stood by and allowed others to do so when they had a duty to intervene,” OPIA Director Thomas Eicher said in the statement. “We urge anyone with information to call 1-844-OPIA-TIPS and help us ensure that all who bear responsibility are brought to justice.”
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The second-degree official misconduct charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without possibility of parole. The second-degree aggravated assault charge carries a mandatory term of parole ineligibility equal to 85% of the sentence imposed.