A Passaic County judge allowed the release of a police officer accused of assaulting a victim.
Spencer Finch, 44, of Mahwah, will be released from the Bergen County Jail on Wednesday. He had been held at the jail since his arrest on Friday.
Passaic County judge Scott Rumana denied the Passaic County prosecutor’s request to detain Finch until the charges against him are resolved.
Rumana added a release condition that bars Finch from making contact with the victim. He wanted to bar Finch from entering Paterson, but that was not feasible because Finch has to pick up his paycheck from the city and his suspension ends in 30 days in accordance with police labor contract. He will be placed on light duty after the suspension term expires.
Finch is charged with official misconduct, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and tampering with public records or information over a May 26 incident. Authorities said Finch attacked the victim by striking him in the face with his hand, hitting the victim multiple times with a flashlight, and kneeing the victim in the face.
The attack occurred while Finch was on duty and in uniform. Following the attack, Finch prepared, signed, and submitted a false police report that contained several false statements, according to the prosecutor.
“We know this because there’s a video of the incident,” said Passaic County assistant prosecutor Peter Foy. He said a bodycam captured the unprovoked attack on the victim. Finch also used a flashlight to attack the victim that is prohibited by police regulations.
Finch was suspended without pay after charges were filed against him. He worked as a police officer in the Paterson Police Department for 17 years. He is the 11th police officer in Paterson charged with misconduct over the past three years.
Foy argued Finch is a flight risk. He could also intimidate the victim and a witness, he said.
Finch’s attorney Anthony Iacullo argued his client should be released.
“He has lived his entire life in New Jersey,” said Iacullo. He suggested his client is not a flight risk. “This is still America. He is still presumed innocent of these charges.”
Iacullo said Finch voluntarily surrendered to authorities. Finch suffers from a medical condition. Finch also cares for his elderly mother, said the attorney.
Finch appeared virtually from the Bergen County Jail.