ASBURY PARK — Ernest Mignoli is a retired professor and a freelance journalist who has been living in Asbury Park for over a decade.
Investigators say his criticism of two Asbury Park police officers came just several days before his tires got slashed. The glass on his Jeep and his Toyota Prius was also scratched and smashed.
"I was mortified and shocked to see the vicious nature of the attack on my car," said Mignoli, 70. "And to add to it heartbroken, because you don’t like to think those people sworn to protect us all, it just makes you wonder."
It happened between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning. His Jeep is still parked where the attack happened on Main Avenue in Ocean Grove. His Prius was vandalized in Asbury Park.
"The officers behavior is not acceptable," said Asbury Park Police Chief David Kelso. "With the assistance of the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office and due to their professionalism and swift action regarding the matter surrounding these two officers, we were able to quickly identify the officers involved and ensure they were charged accordingly."
Asbury Park Police Officers Stephen Martinsen, 29, and Thomas Dowling, 26, are facing weapons, criminal mischief and conspiracy charges. A court date has not yet been set, but both could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges.
Mignoli said he spotted the 2 officers outside a local bar last week.
"They were taking advantage of the fact that we can drink be drunk and be rowdy, so I reported them," said Mignoli.
Since the arrests, Martinsen has been suspended without pay. Dowling has been fired.
Martinsen has been with the Asbury Park Police Department since 2013. Dowling was hired in 2015.