Ernest Mignoli is known in Asbury Park, NJ, for speaking out about the city and its police department, but when two of his cars were recently vandalized, even he didn't think the perps could've been some of the very people he constantly criticizes. That's why he tells NJ Advance Media his "jaw dropped" when he found out who the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office had charged with criminal mischief, conspiracy, and weapons offenses after his Toyota Prius and Jeep Liberty had their tires slashed and their windows smashed: two Asbury Park police officers. A press release from the prosecutor's office says Stephen Martinsen, 29, and Thomas Dowling, 26, dressed up in disguises and purposely targeted Mignoli's cars, located in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, just days after he'd filed an administrative complaint against both of them; it's not clear what that complaint entailed.
"I just wouldn't think it would be in the scope of police officers to do something like that," Mignoli says. "I'm a concerned citizen [and] outspoken critic of [the] Asbury Park Police Department. But this goes behind the pale." Police Chief David Kelso agrees, noting in the release that the officers' alleged revenge "is not acceptable and does not represent the level of professionalism, community focus, or resident safety that we expect of our officers." Dowling has been fired, while Martinsen has been suspended without pay. Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni tells the Asbury Park Press that official misconduct charges against the officers could still emerge. If convicted of those charges, the two men would face a mandatory minimum of five years behind bars, and up to 26 years each if convicted of all the charges against them. (Read more New Jersey stories.)