As part of the Hackensack seven month undercover drug investigation
, Lenny Capra, a 59 year old Hackensack man was allegedly beaten by Hackensack police. Capra was taken from the Hackensack police station by ambulance to Bergen Regional Medical Center where he was treated for a broken arm he sufferd during police interrogation.
Capra was arrested in a sting operation after receiving a call from a female acquaintance who asked Capra to bring her a “sixty”, sixty dollars’ worth of crack cocaine. Upon arrival at the women’s house on Hudson Street undercover officers were waiting for Capra in the bathroom and arrested him. Eight other officers were waiting downstairs according to Capra.
Capra was brought to the Hackensack police station and according to Capra he was asked to participate in another sting by making a call to buy drugs. When Capra refused he claims that Hackensack Police Detective Mark Gutierrez got physical.
Capra told the Bergen Dispatch that while being pushed around by Gutierrez he pushed back and “that was it” said Capra. “They took me out of the room to the hallway and threw me on the ground, four or five cops started kicking me, kicked me in the face, broke my arm.”
“They looked like linebackers for the New York Giants football team, the smallest one was probably 240lbs” said Capra.
For those who know Capra the news of a drug arrest was not surprising but a beating by police was shocking. Capra, who has been arrested before for possession is currently participating in Drug Court.
Years of drug use has taken its toll on the 59 year old man who can be described as frail at best. “No self-respecting cop could look you in the eye and say they had to beat Lenny” one of Capra’s friends told the Bergen Dispatch. “Even when Lenny gets mad you can’t even tell, it seems like he joking with you” they added.
Capra was put in shackles and placed on a stretcher. An ambulance took Capra from the Hackensack police station to Bergen Regional Medical Center where he was treated and held in “D1”, the Bergen County Sheriff’s lockdown area of the hospital.
Capra was later brought to the Bergen County Jail where he posted $25,000 bail and was released.
Capra was charged with Distributing Heroin/Cocaine (2C:35-5B(3) ), Controlled Dangerous Substance on School Property (2C:35-7 ) and Obstruction of Administration of Law (2C:29-1A ). Despite the charges, the arrest took place at an apartment on Hudson Street and not on school property.
Det. Mark Gutierrez
Alberto Gutierrez Sr.
Alberto Gutierrez Jr.
Detective Mark Gutierrez, 37, is the son of Alberto Gutierrez, Sr. a Hackensack police officer who was charged in 2011 with tampering with a witness and obstruction of administration of law in a case where Hackensack police beat a detainee.
Gutierrez, Sr. was not charged with assault but “He immediately set on course to tamper with witnesses,” Daniel Keitel, an assistant Bergen County prosecutor told the press.
Alberto Gutierrez, Jr., 38, the brother of Detective Mark Gutierrez, was a one-time Hackensack police officer and was arrested by the FBI in 2002
on charges of drug distribution and witness tampering when he was a police officer in Sarasota, Florida. Alberto Gutierrez, Jr. traded crack cocaine for sex with a woman he met on the job and was sentenced to house arrest and three years of probation.
Gutierrez, Jr. was a Sarasota police officer for seven months. He resigned
from the department amid an internal affairs investigation of sexual misconduct with two other women. Both said he asked them for sex while he was on duty.
The woman who allegedly setup Capra was swept up in the February 24
arrests and charged with Distributing Heroin/Cocaine (2C:35-5B(3) ), Controlled Dangerous Substance on School Property (2C:35-7 ) and two counts of Distributing a Controlled Dangerous Substance (2C:35-5B(13)).
According to the Physician’s report from Bergen Regional Medical Center Mr. Capra was released from the hospital on February 13 to the Bergen County Jail. Surgery on his arm was scheduled for Tuesday, February 18th
but Capra made bail on the 15th
For the past three weeks Capra has been made numerous trips back to Bergen Regional but still has not been scheduled for the needed surgery. “I should have stayed in jail”, Capra told the Bergen Dispatch, “I would have had my arm fixed by now.”
Capra also said the prescriptions for pain medication he was given on discharge from Bergen Regional were taken by the Bergen County jail and not returned when he was released. His wallet which he had at the time of his arrest also has not been seen since.
Adding additional insult to Mr. Capra’s injury when he returned home from the Bergen County jail he received a bill from the Hackensack Volunteer Ambulance Corp for $1,200 for the ride from the Hackensack police station to Bergen Regional Medical Center.
The Hackensack police speak of a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to what they call “quality of life
” crimes but when it comes to a discussion about police officers being over-aggressive it is accepted as normal.
Back in October 2013 Hackensack Police Director Michael Mordaga and Police Commissioner David Sims hosted a community meeting when parents were outraged after a talk from Mordaga to the Hackensack High School football team.
Mordaga discussed with the teens how they should act when stopped by police. When the teens told their parents about the talk with Mordaga parents spoke up prompting the community meeting. Parents were upset that their children had the impression that it was not “if” they were stopped by police but “when”.
Parents complained about officers being too aggressive. “It’s bound to happen” Mordaga told the parents telling the crowd that it was their responsibility to be on their best behavior when faced with an aggressive officer.
Mordaga excused the aggressive behavior saying that as a result of taking over a department still reeling from the administration of former Police Chief Ken Zisa. “Most of the officers on duty are new hires and not from Hackensack. They don’t know the people and don’t know the area” Mordaga told the parents.
“It’s not the uniform officers who you have to worry about, they are actually pretty cool” one Hackensack resident told the Bergen Dispatch. “but when you see the black Crown Vics with the windows all blacked out then when you need to worry – the goon squad is here” he added.
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