Survivors of Beating Victim Suing Jersey City Officer and Department

The Star-Ledger, Wednesday, June 28, 1995
By Meg Nugent

Relatives of Bolivian national who died after a beating in a Jersey City gas station gave notice yesterday that they will seek $50 million in damages from the patrolman charged with the man's murder and from other parties, including the city and its police department.

"They want this matter to be concluded as quickly as possible, and they expect this police officer to be put in jail for the rest of his life," said Newark attorney Shelley Stangler, who submitted a notice of claims with the Jersey City clerk's office that will pave the way for the filing of the civil lawsuit she is preparing on behalf of the family of Julio Tarquino.

The 22-year-old house painter, a resident of West Palm Beach, Fla., died five days after lapsing into a coma in May following a melee in which he was struck on the head.

Officer John Chiusolo, an eight-year veteran of the city police force with a history of violent confrontations while arresting suspects, was charged with Tarquino's murder. Chiusolo, who has been suspended from the force without pay, is free on $100,000 bail.

In addition to Chiusolo, other defendants to be named in the lawsuit are Hudson County Police Officer Matthew Salvatore, the county police department, the Jersey City Police Academy, the Somerset County Police Academy in Somerville and the Bergen County Police and Fire Academy in Mahwah.

The potential defendants either could not be reached for comment or declined to discuss the pending lawsuit.

The family cannot file the suit until six months have passed, said Stangler, citing state laws concerning suits against government entities such as municipalities and police departments.

Stangler, who was accompanied by Tarquino's mother, Francesca, and his sister, Rosa, on the trip to the city clerk's office, said the family remained despondent over the death of the young man, who was three weeks away from marrying his fiancée, Jenny Fiallos, when he died May 11 at the Jersey City Medical Center.

"They're not doing very well. The mother is distraught; the fiancée is under psychiatric care for serious anxiety and depression - she can't eat, she's vomiting and she can't sleep," the attorney said.

The family is seeking damages for federal and state civil rights violations, assault, battery, failure to properly establish and enforce police procedures, false arrest, failure by police officers to provide adequate medical care for Tarquino while he was in custody and failure to property hire, train and supervise police officers, according to Stangler.

Tarquino's relatives also contend a patter of "misconduct and indifference" was permitted to exist within the Jersey City Police Department, the attorney said.

Through the lawsuit, Stangler said, "We want to send a message to the city of Jersey City and to other police departments around the country that the civilians are not going to tolerate this kind of behavior."

Stangler also contended the May 7 incident that led to Tarquino's death "could have been prevented if the police department had adequately supervised Mr. Chiusolo and taken actions to either get him off the force or reprimand him...previous to this incident."

The city police department earlier defended its handling of past complaints against Chiusolo.

Chiusolo has a history of violent confrontations in making arrests. In 1991, for example, he shot and killed 23-year-old Maximino Cintron following a melee on a Jersey City street. A Hudson County grand jury later cleared Chiusolo of any wrongdoing.

In addition, six brutality complaints were filed earlier against Chiusolo. Four of those cases ended with the officer's being cleared, and two are pending.

Tarquino was struck on the head during an early morning confrontation with Chiusolo at a gas station on Kennedy Boulevard. Fiallos, the victim's fiancée, had told police she saw Chiusolo strike Tarquino on the side of the head with a black object.

Chiusolo was off duty and buying gasoline when he intervened in a dispute that had escalated into a shoving match involving Tarquino, his fiancée a friend of the couple and two other residents.

Salvatore, the Hudson County police officer, was working an off-duty security job at the gas station when the fight erupted and intervened shortly before Chiusolo become involved, according to officials.

Chiusolo then scuffled with Tarquino, subdued and arrested him, his fiancée and the friend, and took them to the North District station house for processing.

The booking was interrupted when Tarquino complained of head pain and was taken to Christ Hospital for treatment. He later was released back to police, who returned Tarquino to the precinct to complete the booking procedure.

But within a half-hour after hew as transported to the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, police called for an ambulance. Tarquino underwent emergency brain surgery, slipped into a coma and died.