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Burlington County Undersheriff Odise Carr. (Photo: Odise Carr).

New Burlington undersheriff was tied to 2018 excessive force incident

Odise Carr demoted, suspended after allegedly watching officer repeatedly punch a man in the back of the head

By David Wildstein, January 12 2023 4:54 pm

The newly-appointed Burlington County Undersheriff was demoted from his job as a Camden County police sergeant followed in alleged incident of excessive force in 2018.

Odise Carr was named to the post by Sheriff James Kostoplis, a Democrat who took office earlier this month.

A viral video of the event, where a man was punched in the back of the head a dozen times by a police officer, led to Nicholas Romantino’s resignation and the payment of a $300,000 settlement by Camden County.  Carr, who was a police sergeant, faced disciplinary charges for failing to supervise the officer at the scene and for his failure to act on evidence of Romantino’s alleged misconduct.

Citing Carr’s failure to report the use of force, Administrative Law Judge Kathleen Calemmo upheld the police department’s decision to suspend him for ten days.  Carr stood ten feet away from Romantino, Calemmo found.

“Carr’s weapon was draw and the suspect was complying with his commands to stop moving and put his hands up,” Calemmo said in her decision.  “Romantino abruptly appeared and tackled the suspect to the ground.  Carr relinquished control of the suspect to Romantino. “

Footage from a body camera worn by Carr showed that the victim, Edward Minguela,  following the instructions of the police officer.  The audio of the incident was picked up by Carr’s body-worn camera, the judge said in her ruling.

Court records show that Carr did not report allegations of excessive force even after Minguela told that to emergency room staff when he was taken to a hospital for treatment of a concussion and broken wrist.   He did not review footage from Romantino’s body camera.

Carr had said that he did not witness Romantino striking Miguela.

Calemmo also upheld Carr’s demotion.

“Undersheriff Carr has a strong record of service in the U.S. Armed Forces and with a number of law enforcement organizations.  He attended law school, passed the bar exam and was recently sworn in as a member of the bar in the State of New Jersey,” Kostoplis said.  “His career should not be defined by one isolated incident involving an allegation against an officer he supervised.  Having spoken with Undersheriff Carr I have the upmost confidence in his ability to lead and serve the people of Burlington County.”

Carr retired from the Camden County Police Department in 2020 after 21 years of service.

He was elected to the Westampton Township Committee in 2022 and briefly sought Democratic Party support for sheriff following the announcement that Anthony Basantis would not seek a second term.

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