After last night’s Bloomfield City Council meeting came to a close, an altercation broke out in the parking lot between Councilman Joseph Lopez—who at last night’s meeting called for the resignation of Councilman Eli Chalet due to the allegations that he accepted a $15,000 bribe—and four members of Chalet’s family.
A video of the incident can be viewed below
According to Lopez, he was in his car with his wife and elderly father when he was “threatened, intimidated and harassed” by members of the Chalet family. According to a police report obtained by PolitickerNJ, Daniel, Rami, Christopher and George Chalet were all involved in the incident.
“All of a sudden the Chalet family approached us while we were in the car,” Lopez told PolitickerNJ. “I looked to my left and there was someone right outside the window, the driver’s side. They had their phone and, because it was dark, they had the light on with the video camera. So they took videotape. It appeared they were opening the door so I pushed the door open and I got out of the car and I was like ‘What are you doing?’ They were all surrounding me.”
Lopez dialed 9-1-1 and, according to the police report, officers arrived on the scene behind the Bloomfield Police headquarters at 7:42 p.m. The report says that Gina Lopez, the councilman’s wife,”stated that one of the individuals attempted to open Mr. Lopez’ car door, at which time Mr. Lopez kicked the door open and a verbal argument ensued.”
While Lopez claims that his actions—which he says include swatting the phone Daniel Chalet was holding way from him—were in “self defense for him and his family,” Chalet paints a different picture of that night’s incidents.
According to the police report, police were dispatched to Mountainside Hospital at 10:54 p.m. to speak with Daniel Chalet. According to the report, “Mr. Chalet stated that he was walking to his vehicle with his cousins, which unbeknownst to him was parked behind Mr. Lopez’ vehicle. Mr. Chalet stated that he began recording Mr. Lopez so that he could not be accused of anything. Mr. Chalet states that he was near Mr. Lopez’ driver side door at which time Mr. Lopez kicked the door open into Mr. Chalet. He states that Mr. Lopez then struck him twice with a closed fist in the face and caused his phone to fall, breaking the screen in multiple different places.”
PolitickerNJ also spoke with Daniel Chalet about the incident.
“He kicked his door open and when he kicked it he hit me hard on my knee,” Chalet said. “I am filing charges on him.”
According to Chalet he has filed assault charges and mischief charges with the Bloomfield Police Department. He also plans on filing charges with the New Jersey State Police and the Essex County Prosecutor.
“I fear for my life,” Chalet said. “I, by no means, was looking for any trouble. You just can’t go around punching people. He accused Elias Chalet of bribery and that is the kind of conduct he shows in public. That is absurd.”
Lopez says that Daniel Chalet’s claims are fraudulent, something he says is evidenced by the alleged assault not being reported until several hours after the police left the scene when he was in the hospital.
“Here we are in the parking lot and all the police come and he makes no mention that I hit him in the face,” Lopez said. “Then later on he goes to the hospital and says that I punched him. That is absolutely false, I never touched him. I never punched him in the face, as he said. I did hit the phone because he got in my face and he put the light in my face. So I acted out of self-defense. I had to defend my family against this mob, against this group that approached me.”
According to Lopez, he was singled out due to a “vendetta” by the Chalet family due to his actions against Elias Chalet. Daniel Chalet, however, says that while the council meeting “got kind of hot” due to disagreements about Elias Chalet he did “nothing wrong” either in the chambers or in the parking lot.
“He is a public figure, he is on public property,” Chalet said. “I can record him all I want.”
Elias Chalet was not present for the altercation. He is currently under investigation by the New Jersey Office of the U.S.
Attorney General on the bribery charges. He was arrested in November, an event that sparked Bloomfield community members to come together to ask Mayor Michael Venezia to call for Chalet’s resignation.