Police Accountability Project
The Police Accountability Project is a committee of the NJ Libertarian Party. Its goal is to search out cases of police misconduct, file former Internal Affairs (IA) complaints when appropriate, and to publicize violations of rules and laws by the police. There may be other stories posted on the NJLP Police Internal Affairs Complaint Blog page.
Police Accountability Project of the New Jersey Libertarian Party
Paul Morrison, Chief
Roselle Park Police Department
110 East Westfield Avenue
Roselle Park, NJ 07204
Dear Chief Morrison:
I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this e-mail as our Internal Affairs complaint. I am forwarding this complaint to you, as Chief of Police, because there is nothing on your web site identifying the person within your Department to whom an Internal Affairs complaint should be directed.
On July 12, 2013, the Township of Gloucester (Camden County) agreed to pay $167,765.38 to two roommates who sued members of the Gloucester Township Police Department for allegedly entering their home without a warrant, falsely charging and beating them.
In their suit, Marc Pizzo and Jamie Slimm said that on October 17, 2010, Slimm had called the Gloucester Township Police Department's non-emergency number to make an inquiry "regarding Pizzo including but not limited to the status of a past citation." This call allegedly caused Sergeant Mark Benton and Police Officers Dwayne Pietzsch and Paul Bertini to respond.
On July 21, 2014, the insurer for two Waterford (Camden County) police officers agreed to pay $260,000 to a father and his parents who sued them for alleged harassment, unlawful arrest and use of excessive force.
In their separate suits, Tracey Miller and his parents Ronald and Lavina Miller said that Waterford Police Sergeant Joseph McNally is a "very close friend" of Thomas Watson, who is the father of Tracey's ex-wife Jennifer Miller. According to the complaints, the divorce between Tracey and Jennifer was "highly contested" and involved a domestic violence complaint and custody of the couple's child.
On February 23, 2013, the Township of Winslow (Camden County) agreed to pay $42,500 to a local man who sued members of the Winslow Police Department for allegedly applying excessive force upon him.
In his suit, Ronald Brown said that on September 18, 2008 he was sitting in parked car when Officer Sean Richards approached on a bicycle and ordered him to exit the vehicle and place his hands on the car. He claimed that after he complied, Officer Richards handcuffed him and threw him on the ground. Brown claimed that his injuries were serious enough to warrant a one-week stay in a jail infirmary.
On March 4, 2014, the Township of Gloucester (Camden County) agreed to pay $30,000 to a Gloucester City man who sued members of the Gloucester Police Department for allegedly purposefully dropping him, while handcuffed, causing his head to strike the pavement.
In his suit, Scott V. Dove said that on July 23, 2011, he and his wife were confronted by Officers Thomas J. Ritz and Timothy Ryan Kohlmyer while they were walking home from his brother's house. Ritz allegedly ordered Dove to "drop what [he] was holding in his hand" and then handcuffed him. It was at this point that Officers Benjamin Lewitt and Frank Pace, along with Ritz and Kohlmyer, allegedly threw Dove "against one of the patrol cars on the scene and smashed [his] head against same." He claimed that the officers then threw him to the ground, beat him with closed fists and kicked him in the face. The officer allegedly then picked him up to carry him to a patrol car and "purposefully dropped" him causing his head to strike the pavement. He claimed to have received several injuries including a "fractured left orbital socket."
The case is captioned Dove v. Gloucester Township, Camden County Superior Court Docket No. CAM-L-2934-13 and Dove's attorney was Adam S. Malamut of Cherry Hill. Case documents are on-line here.
On June 18, 2014, the Borough of Penns Grove and the Township of Carneys Point (Salem County) agreed to pay $2,000,000 to the four minor daughters of a man who died while in police custody.
In her suit, Judith Mincey, the mother of MoShowon Leach, claimed that Penns Grove Police Officers Raymond Rinnier and Joseph Schultz choked Leach to death during his arrest on March 21, 2010. According to the complaint, Leach was disoriented and "fighting the air" when police were called to the parking lot in which he was located. Leach allegedly ignored the officers' requests for him to stop and while he was entering the residence of a relative, Officers Rinnier and Schultz allegedly "descended upon him, maced him and took him to ground." There, Schultz allegedly told Rinnier to "choke him out." Leach was pronounced dead a short time later. Schultz allegedly said at the scene that “Ray [Rinnier] had to put [Leach] to sleep.”
On September 30, 2013, the City of Union City (Hudson County) agreed to pay $25,000 to a local man who sued members of the Union City Police Department for arresting him on October 2, 2010 without justification and applying excessive force against him.
In his complaint, Plaintiff Franklin Garcia does not recite the particular manner in which the excessive force was allegedly used. It only claimed that William Varona and Frank DePinto, Jr. were the Union City officers involved. Garcia claimed that the charges of Aggravated Assault and Obstruction of justice were dismissed on December 5, 2011.
On December 7, 2013, the City of Union City (Hudson County) agreed to pay $50,000 to two local women who sued members of the Union City Police Department for falsely arresting and maliciously prosecuting them.
In their complaint, Carlene Peguero and her mother Ingrid DeCastro claimed that Union City Police Sergeant Mark Julve, accompanied by Detectives Jasen Bellamy, R. Cetinich (presumably Raymond Cetinich) and Ruben Rodriguez came to their home on August 12, 2011 to execute a search warrant against Jean Peguero (who was Carlene's brother and Ingrid's son). The officers allegedly arrested Jean after finding marijuana and a marijuana grinder in his room.
On September 22, 2011, the Borough of Beachwood (Ocean County) agreed to pay $75,000 to a local couple who sued members of the Beachwood Police Department for allegedly applying excessive force during a traffic stop.
In their suit, Kevin and Maria Chabot said that on August 26, 2007, their truck was pulled over by Patrolman Glen DeMarco. DeMarco allegedly pushed and maced Kevin, with some of the mace getting in Marie's eyes. At that point, Patrolmen Eric Harris and Sean Langan arrived on the scene and arrested Marie. The complaint alleged that Harris applied the handcuffs so tightly that they lacerated Marie's wrists. The complaint further alleged that Harris and Langan hurt Marie's back when they pushed her into an ambulance.
On September 18, 2013, the Township of Lakewood (Ocean County) entered into a confidential agreement to pay $40,000 to a local man who sued members of the Lakewood Police Department for assaulting him and applying excessive force against him.
In his suit, Edwin A. Alicea said that on January 15, 2012, he was stopped by former Lakewood Police Officer Jeremy Felder who "assaulted him without justification and with excessive force." He claimed that Felder forcibly removed him from his car, threw him to the ground, assaulted him and sprayed his face with pepper spray "without justification." According to a March 5, 2014 Star Ledger article (here), Felder was arrested in March 2014 for official misconduct arising out of a separate incident.
On April 23, 2013, the Borough of Lavallette (Ocean County) agreed to pay $75,000 to a Bridgewater Township Municipal Court judge who claimed that Lavallette police arrested him without probable cause after he declined to take a field balance test. He also claimed that the arrest put him "in the throes of a full blow panic/anxiety attack" and that the police chief's quotes to the local press forced him to resign his position.
An open letter to the Dover police officer who called a young woman a "ghetto piece of shit":
To whom it may concern:
This weekend I attended Firefly music festival, and for the most part, I had a lovely time. Between waste management, EMS and Dover PD, I made sure to thank about a dozen men and women in uniform for working those days. Festivals are a nightmare for health and safety workers. You must have been exhausted. There must have been thousands of kids pushing the limits; kids who don't understand that babysitting at Firefly is not what you signed up for. You must have been really pissed off.
That doesn't make this okay. Nothing really would.
Around 1:30 AM on Sunday, you and a few other officers were breaking up an altercation between two young black females outside of "The Hub." The women had been separated and cuffed, and yes, they were saying nasty things to each other.
An interesting study recently revealed that police in New Jersey are more likely to file lawsuits against a police department than your average citizen is.
Jackson pays $25,000 to settle claim that police beat husband and forced wife to use "recommended" bail bondsman
On February 19, 2014, the Township of Jackson (Ocean County), according to a confidential agreement, agreed to pay $25,000 to a local man who sued members of the Jackson Police Department for allegedly beating him and forcing his wife to use a bail bond company allegedly having financial connections to a former Jackson police officer.
In his suit, Salvatore Day said that on December 20, 2009 Jackson police responded to his home because he had been in a verbal altercation with a neighbor. When police were at his door, he claimed that his wife "attempted to close the door momentarily to get [Day's] dogs away from the doorway." At that point, he claimed that officers, including Joseph Candido, Michael Cavallo, James Reynolds and/or Gregory Vidalis pushed the door open and "spun [his] body around, pushed him against wall and threw him to the floor, kneed him in his neck, and yanked his arms behind his back."