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New Jersey officer accused of excessive force pleads guilty to misdemeanor counts in federal court

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NEWARK, N.J. (鶹ýapp) — A New Jersey police officer has pleaded guilty to federal charges of having used excessive force in two separate arrests several weeks apart a few years ago.

Paterson officer Kevin Patino, 32, of Wayne, New Jersey, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Newark to two misdemeanor counts of violating an individual’s civil rights. He was scheduled for sentencing July 23.

Patino was accused of having thrown someone to the ground and then repeatedly striking the victim while trying to help another officer disperse a crowd in Paterson in November 2020. Authorities also alleged that he repeatedly struck another person who had been watching him and another officer question someone else in Paterson in December 2020.

Patino and the other officer — who plans to go to trial on the charges against him, according to defense attorney Pat Caserta — have been on paid administrative leave since May 2021. Officials haven’t commented on Patino’s employment status or whether he will testify in the other officer’s trial, the Paterson Press reported.

Both officers have also been named in several civil suits, and attorneys representing alleged victims in both cases hailed the plea. Attorney Abdul Hamden said it “not only affirms our client’s courage in standing up for his rights but also serves as a testament to the importance of accountability in our justice system.”

In April 2021, on the same day the FBI filed charges in the December case, the state attorney general’s office announced that Paterson’s internal affairs operation would be overseen by Passaic County prosecutors, an intervention that lasted about 17 months, the Paterson Press reported.