Clara Colon’s story
By Dylboz and Jenn
According to a police report drafted by Officer Philip Mauro, badge no. 91, documenting a domestic violence incident on August 12, 2010, the following events occurred –
Upon my arrival to the above residence, I was met in the driveway by an adult female later identified as Clara Colon. She stated her husband, Egberto Colon, is crazy and she wanted him arrested. She advised she sustained a visible bruise on her right inner bicep caused by Mr. Colon grabbing her. Mrs. Colon was asked where Mr. Colon was and she stated he left in his personal vehicle just minutes prior to our arrival. She advised me Mr. Colon was a police officer with the Elizabeth Police Department and he was armed. Mrs. Colon further stated as the verbal argument continued, Mr. Colon became physical and began to destroy two laptop computers that were in their upstairs bedroom. Mrs. Colon advised me she had it and she was in fear for her life as well as her children’s…Mrs. Colon was then escorted to the Stafford Township Police Department to initiate the restraining order process…At approximately 0340 the Elizabeth Police Department was contacted and notified regarding the above incident.
The report revealed that subsequently, Judge Damian Murray granted a temporary restraining order and set the bail for simple assault at $1,000. A Supplemental Investigation Report indicated Mr. Colon later turned himself into the Stafford Township Police Headquarters (located in New Jersey) on his warrant and handed his duty weapon and magazine over to Detective Chris Mulch.
This appears, on its face, to reflect some degree of police accountability, as Mr. Colon turned himself in, was made to turn in his duty weapon and was subject to a restraining order for simple assault. However, Clara Colon has a very different story to tell.
Ms. Colon told Cop Block that she had long suffered from vicious attacks by her husband. On various occasions, he had broken her nose, teeth and ribs, raped her shortly after she had a c-section, and otherwise beat her. On the night at issue, her husband attacked her first with a hammer. He put a hole in their bedroom door with the hammer, when she ducked to avoid it. He swung the hammer so hard it broke. He then proceeded to put his service gun to her head and said he was going to “blow [her] brains out.” She pushed him away, grabbed their baby, and ran out of the house. He proceeded to trash the house, destroying two computers in the process, then packed some personal items and left in his car.
Ms. Colon said she had bruises all over her body from her husband’s malicious attack. She gave all of these details to Officer Mauro and another responding officer. The officers came inside the house, and saw how the master bedroom had been trashed. She recalled that Officer Mauro in particular appeared helpful and sympathetic. She remembered that in contrast, the other responding officer did not even want to take her to a judge to obtain a temporary restraining order. However, when Ms. Colon requested a copy of the police report, many of the details she related mysteriously failed to show up in Officer Mauro’s report. The one bruise he documented in his report was a minor one she had from 2 weeks prior. She said the broken hammer was also in plain sight when he came to take her statement. She tried to contact him regarding this discrepancy, but to no avail.
She suspects the original report was either edited or written in a different manner due to pressure from superiors. Ms. Colon did not express any bitterness toward Officer Mauro, but sighed, saying “He is an African American gentleman, and this is a really white town.” Interestingly enough, a few months after Ms. Colon’s harrowing experience, a memo from Officer Mauro, the only Black police officer in the Stafford Township police department surfaced. According to the memo, Mayor John McMenamin, who was a police lieutenant at the time, said, “we have to get rid of that [racial slur].” Mauro stated he was walking by the briefing room at the police department when he heard McMenamin say this to another officer. He waited years to report it because he feared for his job security.
It’s safe to say that Officer Mauro has seen his share of office politics. Of course, the real victim of all the “office politics” is Ms. Colon, who unsuccessfully went through two attempts at getting a restraining order. While she was pursuing the first restraining order, she began receiving anonymous phone calls leading up to her court date. The caller demanded that she cease her efforts, or her head would be chopped off. She was extremely frightened. “I got intimidated and didn’t show up to court,” said Ms. Colon.
After that, the threats came directly from her husband. Ms.Colon reported that he called her saying he would burn the house down and described various ways in which he would kill her. He said he was going to disconnect the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and burn her and the children while they slept. Ms. Colon sought help from the chief of police, and from her husband’s brother (who is employed with the same police department in Elizabeth, NJ), and also contacted internal affairs, all of whom either ignored her calls or were otherwise unhelpful. She finally decided to press for another restraining order.
She was successful in obtaining the second restraining order, which basically says Mr. Colon is prohibited from stalking her, among other things that he shouldn’t be doing anyway. Shortly after the restraining order was secured, he emptied their bank accounts. The prosecutor in charge of her husband’s case reviewed the report by Officer Mauro and allowed the charges against Mr. Colon to be pled down to disorderly conduct because there was not enough evidence documented. Further, Cop Block was able to confirm through a telephone call to the Elizabeth Police Department that Colon continues to be employed there.
Internal affairs has since called Ms. Colon and expressed an interest in taking a statement from her. Because of her encounters with the police, she says she will not do so until she has obtained legal representation.
“I don’t sleep at night,” says Ms. Colon. She is intent on fighting this matter and finding a civil rights attorney to represent her. Since her experience, she has reached out to others who have suffered similar abuse at the hands of their police officer spouses. “We’re just supposed to go away, shut up and take it.”
Several attempts were made to reach Officer Mauro for comment. He did not respond. A representative at the courthouse in New Jersey where Colon’s criminal case was filed denied our request for a copy of the records, stating the only way to access such records is to view the original located at the courthouse. The prosecutor in charge of Mr. Colon’s case also was unavailable when contacted at her office.