Former Hoboken city council president sues N.Y. cop, Hoboken cop over 2007 DUI arrest

Former Hoboken city council president sues N.Y. cop, Hoboken cop over 2007 DUI arrest

April 02, 2010, Jersey Journal

Former Hoboken Fourth Ward Councilman Chris Campos is suing Sgt. James Peck of the Hoboken police and New York City police officer Joseph Liotta in a civil lawsuit over his DUI arrest more than three years ago. The cities of Hoboken and New York were also named in the suit.

Campos, a private practice attorney in Hoboken, is seeking injunctive, compensatory damages from the defendants who arrested him on DUI charges more than three years ago.

Louis Zayas, Campos’ attorney, contends that the police officers conspired to embarrass and discredit Campos as an elected official and that there was no probable cause to believe he was intoxicated. Zayas said the arrest, which led to Campos losing his job as a municipal prosecutor and losing his bid for Council reelection, was a deliberate act that was extremely damaging to his political career.

“This is absolutely representative of the culture of retaliation within the Hoboken Police Department,” said Zayas.

Campos’ civil lawsuit has a jury trial scheduled for August 24, Zayas said.

This issue dates back to Jan. 20, 2007 when Campos was arrested and charged with driving while under the influence after he was pulled over for running a red light on the West Side Highway.

Police were unable to report the reading on the first test. He registered 0.08 on the second test, which was high enough to be considered over the legal limit. Campos registered 0.097 on his third Breathalyzer test, police said.

Following months of court delays, Campos pled guilty in October of 2008 to a violation charge of driving while impaired.

Campos' arrest set off an NYPD internal investigation after it was reported that the arresting officer, Joseph Liotta, made a "courtesy call" to Hoboken police to ask whether Campos, as a councilman, favored police officers.

According to a tape recording of the "courtesy call" obtained by The Jersey Journal, a man who identifies himself asked Liotta asks Hoboken Police Sgt. James Peck if Campos should spend the night as "a guest of the city."

Peck, who happened to be the desk sergeant on duty at the time, immediately told Liotta to "do your duty" and "enforce the law."

Later in the conversation, Liotta asks Peck if City Council members "favor you guys," and Peck says it's "besides the point whether they're good to us," but "they're not." He later adds that Hoboken cops haven't had a contract in two years.

Zayas argues that part of this tape was deleted and that police are withholding evidence.

Hoboken's corporation counsel and Hoboken police officials could not be immediately reached for comment. The NYPD public affairs office does not comment on ongoing litigation.

In 2005, at the age of 28, Campos was the youngest City Council president in the history of Hoboken. Richard DelBoccio subsequently replaced him as City Council president.

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