Former Wildwood Mayor Gary DeMarzo was not surprised at the actions of town police officers who hit a woman during an arrest on the beach Memorial Day weekend.
He says the police department has a history of violence.
DeMarzo, a former Wildwood police officer himself, reached out to NJ Advance Media with claims that the incident involving 20-year-old Emily Weinman was not isolated, citing excessive force cases of the past including one allegedly involving current Chief Robert Regalbuto.
“When people ask me what the culture of the department is like and is it fair, I look to the administration and who these men are. I worked with these men and they’re not honest men,” DeMarzo said.
The Philadelphia mother is a “prisoner in her own home” after the video of her arrest went viral, her attorney said.
DeMarzo is currently involved in a lawsuit against former Cape May County prosecutor Robert Taylor for malicious prosecution, stemming from a 2013 case in which DeMarzo was indicted on charges of misusing funds.
All three charges were dismissed, and DeMarzo claims he was indicted in an attempt to silence him after he subpoenaed tapes that allegedly show physical abuse of an inmate by Chief Regalbuto, who was a police captain at the time.
DeMarzo claims the prosecutor’s office – when Taylor was in charge – never completed the investigation into Regalbuto’s alleged assault.
“When you have a violent police department that looks the other way when you do certain things, those are the things that grow out of it,” DeMarzo said.
On the Saturday before Memorial Day, police officers confronted Weinman about unopened alcohol on the beach.
That confrontation turned physical, and lead to a viral video of a Wildwood officer hitting Weinman twice in the head.
Weinman was charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, aggravated assault by spitting on an officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and being a minor in possession of alcohol.
The officers were placed on administrative duty while internal affairs completes the investigation that includes the review of body camera footage that has since been released to the public.
Current Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano said he had no response to DeMarzo’s claims, calling the allegations “too personal.”
“I wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot pole,” Troiano said, adding that there was “no love lost” between he and DeMarzo.
(DeMarzo became the town’s mayor in 2009 following a recall of Troiano DeMarzo supported. Troiano regained his seat in 2011 – from DeMarzo.)
Troiano publicly commented on the Weinman arrest before the body camera footage was released saying he believed the officers did a good job in handling the altercation.
DeMarzo on Monday said Troiano’s comments against Weinman were unfair.
“It shows his credibility, that he already set the plate that these two cops did nothing wrong and that she was deserving of what happened. Now does Emily get a fair shake?,” DeMarzo said.