White police dispatcher says officers insulted him with racial slurs

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WALL TOWNSHIP -

A former Wall Township police dispatcher has filed a lawsuit against the town and police department after he says he endured years of abuse by officers who insulted him with racial slurs.

Attorney Ravi Sattiraju filed the lawsuit on behalf of his client Nicholas Curcio, who is white.

Sattiraju says that a group of officers called Curcio “monkey,” mocked his health conditions and posted racist cartoons.

“He had a heart condition. He had severe diabetes which discolored his leg so it was black,” Sattiraju says. “They'd say ‘You look like a black guy. You have black leg.’”

Curcio also claims that the officers posted incendiary cartoons depicting Ku Klux Klan hoods inside a police car marked "Wall Township" and officers waving at another officer as he drags two dark-skinned men behind his car. Each one was marked with a Wall Township police badge number, which corresponded to officers of different races.

Sattiraju describes Curcio as an olive-skinned white man who was constantly hit with racist slurs.

“There was this notion that anything remotely associated with dark skin was the butt of a joke and was something to humiliate someone about,” the attorney says.

Sattiraju says that for years the officers called Curcio names like “monkey” and “baboon,” and depicted him in cartoons as an ape. The attorney says that on a get well card addressed to Curcio prior to heart surgery, an officer wrote “guess you’re gonna need a new monkey heart.”

Curcio says he was sent sexually explicit messages and images and photos of an African-American teen with the label “Curcio’s high school picture.”

Curcio was suspended from the Wall Township Police Department without pay in 2016 and is currently in the midst of a criminal case accusing him of misusing police resources. But Sattiraju says that the criminal case has nothing to do with an “unending hostile work environment.”

“The people who you would report this to are the ones doing it or standing there while it’s happening or laughing while it’s happening,” Sattiraju says.

Wall Township administrator Jeff Bertrand tells News 12 New Jersey that he cannot comment on a lawsuit involving a personnel issue. But he says that the township takes every complaint seriously.

Another discrimination lawsuit filed against Wall Township was settled earlier this year. Former township employee Brandon Jacobs won a $1.25 million settlement in May. He said that he had been the target of co-workers' anti-Semitic slurs.

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