A Bayonne, New Jersey cop who admitted to beating a man during an arrest in 2013 testified yesterday against the officer accused of helping him cover up the crime. Officer Domenico Lillo pleaded guilty back in September 2015 to using excessive force in his beatdown of 25-year-old Brandon Walsh with a flashlight. According to NJ.com, Walsh was handcuffed at the time and was not resisting officers. The then-45-year-old Lillo pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of civil rights and one count of falsifying records to impede a civil rights investigation.
Lillo was back in court this time to testify against Officer Francis Styles who is accused of helping Lillo cover up the assault. Styles is officially facing charges of falsifying records in a federal investigation and one count of “misprision of a felony” — or acting to conceal a federal offense — in relation to the same incident.
According to court documents, Lillo, Styles and another cop, James Wade, arrived separately at the home of Brandon Walsh. Walsh reportedly had an outstanding warrant from Sussex county for failure to appear. Officers reported that a scuffle ensued near the front door and that pepper spray was used to neutralize Walsh.
Styles wrote in his police report that Walsh was non-compliant and became aggressive. He added that Walsh struggled with police and suffered an injury after hitting a wall and the ground outside of his home. There was no mention of the flashlight beating in Styles’ report.
Surveillance footage shown in court refutes Styles’ account of that day. The video footage, captured from a nearby bar, captured Styles and Lillo bringing Walsh toward West 53rd Street while Wade remained in the house. The video captures Lillo hitting Walsh with a flashlight while Styles watched.
To his defense, Styles’ attorneys plan to argue that Styles didn’t mention the use of a flashlight in the incident because he believed Walsh’s injuries were sustained in the fall.
Lillo also pleaded guilty to assisting in the filing of a false report to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help a relative fraudulently obtain a federally funded home rehabilitation loan. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan 25th. HIs sentencing has seen numerous delays so he could testify in Styles’ trial first.
Lillo is also one of several officers named in a lawsuit that resulted in a $100,000 settlement against the city and police department.
If found guilty and convicted Styles can face up to 30 years in prison.