Correctional Police Officer Indicted on Charges That He Used Pepper Spray Against an Inmate Without Justification and Falsified Related Reports

February 3, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

TRENTON (MERCER)– Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a suspended senior correctional police officer was indicted today for allegedly using oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray, commonly known as “pepper spray,” against an inmate at Mid-State Correctional Facility without justification and falsifying two Department of Corrections reports concerning the incident.

Jovanny Galindo, 33, of Neptune City, N.J., was indicted today by a state grand jury on charges of official misconduct (2nd degree), aggravated assault (3rd degree), tampering with public records (3rd degree), and falsifying or tampering with records (4th degree). The indictment is the result of a joint investigation by the New Jersey Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division and the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA).

On June 16, 2020, Galindo, a Senior Correctional Police Officer at Mid-State Correctional Facility, allegedly confronted a seated inmate and sprayed OC spray into the face of the inmate without any apparent justification.  In the “special custody report” and “use of force report” Galindo filed on the incident, he stated that the inmate ignored an order, became argumentative, and verbally threatened Galindo, which prompted him to use the spray.  It is alleged that Galindo’s statements in the reports were false and his use of force against the inmate was not authorized under the Department of Corrections’ Use of Force Policy. 

 “We are committed to holding correctional police officers accountable if they engage in misconduct and jeopardize the safety of inmates,” said Attorney General Grewal. “When correctional police officers abuse their authority, it impacts the rights and welfare of inmates, as well as the safety and security of the prison environment.”

Deputy Attorney General Brian Uzdavinis is prosecuting the case for the OPIA Corruption Bureau, under the supervision of Corruption Bureau Chief Peter Lee and Counsel to the Director Anthony Picione. Attorney General Grewal thanked the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division for its work on the investigation.

The second-degree charge of official misconduct carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison, with a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison without possibility of parole, and a fine of up to $150,000. The third-degree charge carries a sentence of three to five years in prison, with a mandatory minimum term of two years without possibility of parole, and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Janetta D. Marbrey in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Burlington County, where Galindo will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.