Newark responds to officer DWI controversy

July 12, 2010 3:19:54 PM PDT
Weeks after our investigation, Newark city officials are finally talking to us about a controversial case involving a police detective who was given his job back, even after his own Department says he was drunk and speeding when he killed a man.

Eyewitness News has made numerous attempts to speak on the record, with Newark's Mayor Corey Booker and Police Director Gerry McCarthy to find out what the officer is still on the job. Instead, we heard from the city's top lawyer and from the officer's attorney, who for the first time is giving his version of events.

Detective Mark Hulse, 31, claims it was an unavoidable tragic accident that took the life of a father of two on a Newark street nearly two years ago, but his own Police Department found that the off-duty cop was going 73 miles and hour in a 25 mile an hour zone, with a blood alcohol content of .12 when he mowed down John Marques. For that, Detective Hulse got a six-month suspension.

WALLACE: "Hulse's position is he was not drunk?"
FUSCO: "Right."
WALLACE: "And not speeding."
FUSCO: "Absolutely."

Attorney Tony Fusco, who represents police unions throughout New Jersey, disputes the Police Department's specific findings.

WALLACE: "If you disagreed with the police department's findings, why didn't you challenge them? "
FUSCO: "I didn't want to. I didn't have to."
WALLACE: "Why?"
FUSCO: "He took his 6 months and that was his decision not to. He accepted the punishment, not the findings. He just wanted to end it."

"The ultimate say in punishment technically goes to the police director," Julien Neals said.

Neals is Newark's corporation counsel, the city's lawyer, and the only person representing Newark who we could interview about the Hulse case.

WALLACE: "Do you support that he would get six month suspension for killing someone and being drunk and speeding?"
NEALS: "If the facts were true, I think that the department would have done more. So I think that there was some limitation what the department was able to prove."'
WALLACE: "Somebody came up with it was 73 MPH, somebody came up with .12. Those are the findings of the police department."
NEALS: "Well, those are the initial charges."
WALLACE: "Which he was found guilty of."
NEALS: "Right, he was found guilty, not knowing how they came about the guilty finding."

Surveillance video we obtained just before the accident shows Hulse's car passing others and striking the victim just out of camera range.

"You have a tragic accident that was contributed to by the decedent. He was drunk," Fusco said.

Hulse ran from the accident scene to the nearby third precinct.

"You just leave him there as if he were an animal," said the victim's ex-wife, Lucia Pires.

She believes the officer ran to the precinct for his own protection.

"If you had nothing to hide, why would you leave?" she said.

"He felt that if he had used the cell to call 911, 911 would have taken more time to send a response then him actually going to the precinct," Fusco explained.

Another person, who didn't want to be identified, claims to have been in the precinct when Detective Hulse ran thru the door.

"He ran in and he said, 'I just hit a pedestrian. I think I killed him.' And they told him to shut the f--- up, and go in the back," the person claimed.

WALLACE: "Is it possible somebody would have said it to him?"
FUSCO: "I'm sure somebody would have advised his rights. I think the union president was there."

John Giorgi represents the victim's family.

"What is done is they basically put a cloak around this person, a Chinese wall, to protect him," Giorgi said.

"It seems to me they tucked him in the back and waited until he sobered up and went to the hospital," Pires said.

Police records show Hulse remained at the precinct for two and a half hours. He was never given a breathalyzer. His attorney says he was too injured.

"You're injured, you can't blow into that machine," Fusco said.

WALLACE: "Honestly, would you be taken to the hospital immediately if you were that injured?"
FUSCO: "No, no. You're not. A police officer is not. You and I would, but not a police officer who is involved in a fatality.
NEALS: "He went for help for this guy, so now he's getting crucified because some people think there was a cover-up. There was no cover-up."
WALLACE: "It's just hard to believe that these findings are on this paper, and he's still on the job. I mean, you do understand how the family's outraged?"
NEALS: "Oh, I can totally understand how the family's outraged."

Ironically, Monday marked the anniversary of Marques' death on that Newark street.

The Hulse case was presented to a grand jury, but there was no indictment so it was referred back to the police department.

If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at the.investigators@abc.com and follow Jim Hoffer on Twitter at twitter.com/nycinvestigates


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