On June 3, 2010, the Appellate Division decided In the Matter of Torres Mayfield, Docket No.: A-2969-08T1. In the case, Torres Mayfield appealed from the final decision of the Civil Service Commission (“Commission”) terminating him as an Atlantic City police officer for misconduct.
Mayfield was charged with violations of Atlantic City Police Department Rules and Regulations relating to a domestic dispute involving J.M., who is deaf. In the early morning hours on April 1, 2006, J.M. sought help from police complaining that she was assaulted by her boyfriend, Mayfield. She was bruised and beaten by Mayfield because he thought she was communicating on the computer with an old boyfriend. Mayfield punched her in the face and threatened to hang himself if she left him. That night J.M. was distraught, upset and scared. She was treated in the hospital and photographed.
J.M. eventually dismissed her municipal court charges against Mayfield. She refused to testify at the administrative hearing because Mayfield is the father of her child and they resided together. She was arrested and forced to appear at the administrative hearing. At the hearing, she was defiant and appeared distraught, upset and scared.
During the investigation, Mayfield said that on the night in question he was with Rodney Jamal Armstrong and Ali Cottrell. Mayfield told the investigating detective that when they arrived at his house, J.M. said she was hit by a boot thrown by Mayfield’s son. Armstrong testified he was at a club with Cottrell, but not Mayfield. Armstrong said Mayfield called him telling him and Cottrell about the boot.
The Administrative Law Judge disbelieved the testimony from J.M. that she was struck by a boot. The injuries were not consistent with being struck by a boot, and it was clear to the ALJ that J.M. did not want to contribute to the case against Mayfield. The ALJ found that Mayfield was untruthful by attempting to create an alibi and blame his son. As such, the ALJ found Mayfield assaulted J.M. and was untruthful in his response to the investigation. The Commission adopted the findings of fact made by the ALJ and found the termination of Mayfield as a police officer was justified. This appeal ensued.
On appeal, Mayfield contended the administrative decision was not based on legally competent evidence and that, even if the record supports a finding of guilt, his termination was not in accordance with the principles of progressive discipline. The Appellate Division rejected his arguments and affirmed his termination. Specifically, the Court found that Mayfield failed to demonstrate that the ALJ’s decision was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. Moreover, the Court agreed with the ALJ that Mayfield’s offenses in this case were severe enough to warrant his removal despite lack of a substantial prior disciplinary history.