Jury deadlocks in police chief's hate-crime trial

A federal jury has deadlocked in the trial of a white former police chief charged with a hate crime against a black suspect

CAMDEN, N.J. -- A federal jury failed to reach a verdict Friday on two hate crime-related charges against a white former police chief accused of assaulting a handcuffed black suspect, and the U.S. attorney's office immediately said it would seek a retrial.

Two days after finding former Bordentown Township police chief Frank Nucera guilty on a separate count of lying to the FBI, the jurors told U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler they were deadlocked on one count each of hate crime assault and deprivation of civil rights.

Authorities alleged Nucera smashed the 18-year-old's head into a doorjamb while he was being escorted by two officers from a hotel in 2016. They said the assault was driven by racial hatred. Nucera, 62, has denied committing the assault.

Nucera didn't comment after the proceeding. His attorney, Rocco Cipparone, said a weight had temporarily been lifted from his client's shoulders.

The two pending counts each carry a 10-year maximum prison sentence. Lying to the FBI carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Prosecutors had said one of Nucera's police officers secretly recorded his comments over the course of a year because, they say, he was "increasingly alarmed by (Nucera's) racist remarks and hostility toward African Americans." They also alleged Nucera spoke of using police dogs to intimidate African Americans, including stationing them at high school basketball games to intimidate black fans.

Cipparone had argued that some officers wanted to get rid of Nucera because of his tough disciplinary policies.

Bordentown is a predominantly white town of about 11,000 a few miles from New Jersey's majority African American capital city of Trenton.