Lieutenant denies bias in Hoboken police lawsuit
(AP) - A Hoboken police lieutenant lashed backWednesday at five officers who sued him in October for racialharassment and intimidation, and produced pictures from anow-infamous SWAT team trip to Louisiana in 2005 that his attorneysaid casts doubt on some of their claims.
Through his attorney, Lt. Angelo Andriani denied the officers'claims that he created a hostile work environment, used the n-wordregularly and responded to their complaints with threats andharassment.
The attorney, Charles J. Sciarra, said he had filed acountersuit charging defamation against the five officers, all ofwhom are Hispanic, and the city of Hoboken.
With Andriani present Wednesday but not answering questions dueto the pending lawsuit, Sciarra displayed several photo collagesfrom the SWAT team's two trips to Louisiana in 2005 and 2006 to aidin the recovery after Hurricane Katrina.
Among the photos were several showing Andriani and otherofficers cavorting with waitresses from a Hooters restaurant inAlabama - some of whom were shown holding team members' weapons.
Andriani commanded the SWAT team until it was disbanded inNovember, days after officials learned of the racy photos.
Sciarra also displayed a series of photos taken in a bar that hesaid contradicted the officers' claims that they were offended andleft the premises when Andriani put a napkin over his head withholes cut out for eyes and allegedly used the n-word.
According to Sciarra, time stamps on the photos show at leasttwo of the officers were in the restaurant for more than an hourafter they claimed to have left.
Andriani did not use the napkin to make a reference to the KuKlux Klan, Sciarra said, but instead was referencing a character ina Robin Williams movie, though he was unable to name the movie.
The explanation did not resonate with Manuel Gonzalez, anattorney representing the plaintiffs. He said there is no "propercontext" for such an act.
"The focus of our case continues to be the hostile workenvironment," Gonzalez said. "The abusive nature of this man willbe documented. The evidence will come out at trial and speak foritself."
Another picture that received wide circulation showed a woman inan evening dress holding a gun and posing with SWAT members. OnWednesday, Sciarra showed a picture taken at the same party thatdepicted Hoboken Mayor David Roberts, and noted that neitherRoberts nor any other city official at the party raised objectionsabout the officers' behavior until after the lawsuit was filed nearly two years later.
"If you're there on one day, you can't come back and startscreaming about it two years later," Sciarra said.
In an e-mail Wednesday, Roberts acknowledged attending the eventbut said he did "not recall the alleged actions of Lt. Andriani,"and would not comment further due to the investigation.
Andriani has been assigned to desk duty since mid-November. The officers also charged that from 2004 to 2006, Andrianiordered them to perform chores at his home in Verona, includingdigging holes for a deck, cleaning his boat, and shucking 10bushels of corn.
Sciarra denied that claim Wednesday, and said instead that theofficers had performed minor work at the house in preparation for aSWAT team party that Andriani hosted.