Police Officer Nicholas Maresca Jr. was charged with simple assault on Dec. 2 over a video (below) that shows him smacking Kevin Hemmerich, who was dressed in a bunny suit, on Nov. 17 in Hopatcong, New Jersey.
Kevin and his brother, Jason, who filmed the incident, went to the Hopatcong police headquarters where Kevin was going to turn himself in for an outstanding warrant, reports NJ Advance Media.
The outstanding warrant for Kevin was issued when he failed to do 12 days of work instead of jail time for not having car insurance.
While waiting for an officer to appear, Kevin repeatedly used a blow horn, even though the police told him to stop, reports the New York Post.
An officer, identified as Maresca, comes to the scene seconds later and confronts Kevin.
Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Greg Mueller said that Maresca slapped Kevin with an open hand, which is seen on the video, notes NJ Advance Media.
Another officer reportedly slapped Jason's cell phone out of his hands, and the video ends.
Maresca's lawyer, Anthony Iacullo, defended his client's actions:
Officer Maresca acted appropriately and in accordance with his training and experience as a police officer on that evening in Hopatcong. We are confident that when this matter proceeds to trial Officer Maresca will be vindicated of the one charge against him.
Mueller said that Maresca had been placed on administrative duty until the case is resolved; Maresca is due in court Dec. 28.
The Hopatcong Police Department did not respond to questions from NJ Advance Media.