Officer who struck man in bunny costume charged with assault (VIDEO)

Officer who struck man in bunny costume charged with assault (VIDEO)
A New Jersey police officer has been charged with assault, following an incident in which he struck a man dressed in a bunny costume. The victim was in a police station when the incident occurred and in the process of handing himself in.

Officer Nicholas Maresca, Jr. faces one count of simple assault, according to the New Jersey Herald. The video of the moment he struck Kevin Hemmerich was filmed on a cell phone by his brother and posted online.

In the video, 28-year-old Hemmerich can be seen at Hopatcong Borough Police Department station, dressed in a bunny outfit as he attempts to hand himself in to authorities. Hemmerich was wanted for failing to complete ordered time in the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program.

A giggling Hemmerich can be seen and heard blowing an air horn in the video. When Maresca, 44, enters the station, he strikes Hemmerich while the other officer attempts to block the camera from filming.

The video was streamed on Facebook Live, ending with Hemmerich’s brother saying, “I hope everybody on Facebook Live just saw this f**king cop hit my brother, and they’re gonna get sued for assault.”

Hemmerich’s family told the NJ Herald that they intended to file a civil lawsuit against Maresca, but as of yet no such filing has been made with the court. He did not receive any serious injury due to the incident.

Maresca’s attorney said his actions were “appropriate under the circumstances” and “in accordance with his training.”

"We are confident that when this matter proceeds to trial, Officer Maresca will be vindicated of the charge," he said. He is currently on administrative leave.

A court date has been set for December 28, with Maresca facing up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000 if convicted.