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.
On September 11, 2014, the Town of Belvidere (Warren County) agreed to pay $45,000 to a local woman who sued members of the Belvidere Police Department for allegedly assaulting and falsely arresting her.
In her suit, Lisa Patton said that on February 10, 2011, her daughter called police after the mother and daughter had an argument over proper dosage of the daughter's prescription medicine. According to the complaint, Patton's daughter had substance abuse issues and wanted to ingest more of the medicine than prescribed and Patton wished to limit her daughter's medication intake to the prescribed dose. Belvidere police officers Matthew Scott and Frank Tootle, III went to the family home and both Patton and her son told them that the daughter had already had her prescribed dose that day.
On April 30, 2014, the City of Atlantic City (Atlantic County) agreed to pay $200,000 to two local women, who are sisters, who sued members of the Atlantic City Police Department for allegedly beating them and unleashing a police dog on one of them.
In their suit, Shaheedah Woodall and Khadijah Woodall said that they were at Bally's Hotel and Casino on August 8, 2010 when a fight erupted on the casino floor. Shaheedah, who is partially disabled and uses a cane, was knocked to the ground during the fight and lost her cane. According to the suit, Bally's security officers made everyone leave the casino and wait outside. After the police had arrived and everything calmed down, Khadijah said that she asked the police officers for permission to re-enter the casino to retrieve Shaheedah's cane. After having been denied re-entry by several officers, the sisters claimed that Officer Natane Naylor wrapped her hands around Khadijah's neck and pushed her to the ground. The complaint alleged that Naylor, along with Officers Syed Shah, Grace Cook and Joseph Procopio then "unleashed a savage attack on Khadijah, which included numerous punches to the head and face, kicks to the ribs and midsection." Officer James Hurley then allegedly grabbed Shaheedah from behind and called her a "crippled n****r whore." Shaheedah claims that a police dog, handled by Officer Gary Stowe, then ripped into her and disfigured her left breast. Shaheedah claims that she was so scared that she lost control of her bowel functions.
On July 30, 2014, the City of Long Branch (Monmouth County) agreed to pay $175,000 to an Oceanport man who sued members of the Long Branch Police Department for allegedly applying excessive force upon him.
In his suit, Ralph Mazza said that on May 25, 2012, he was present at his sister's home when she had called police because of unwanted guests at her residence. He claimed that he "was assaulted without justification and excessive force" by Officers Alfred K. Cistaro and Joseph Kennedy "as be spoke with his sister about the summons issued to her by [police]."
East Newark pays $101,000 plus attorney fees to settle former police dispatcher's lawsuit claiming forced oral sex
On July 25, 2014, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mary K. Costello confirmed an agreement under which the Borough of East Newark (Hudson County) agreed to pay a Borough former police dispatcher and volunteer firefighter $101,000 in damages, plus attorney fees to be established by the court, to settle her lawsuit which claimed that she was repeated assaulted sexually by a Borough police sergeant. In an October 8, 2014 application to the court, the woman's attorney applied for attorney fees of $786,247.50, costs of $36,563.90 and a "contingency enhancement" of $393,123.75 for a total award of $1,215,935.15. Judge Kimberly Espinales-Maloney is scheduled to hear the attorney's application on Friday, November 7, 2014, 9 a.m. in Courtroom 807, 595 Newark Avenue, Jersey City.
On September 18, 2013, the City of Bridgeton (Cumberland County) agreed to pay $19,500 to a local woman who sued the City's police department and municipal court for failing to note in their computer systems that she had already posted bail, causing her to be arrested and processed twice for the same offense. The Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office, which was also named in the lawsuit, separately paid $3,000 to the woman.
On November 19, 2010, the City of Bridgeton (Cumberland County) agreed to pay $442,500 to a local man who sued members of the Bridgeton Police Department for allegedly beating him and fabricating charges against him. In addition, the city also paid $87,500 to the man's two co-plaintiffs.
In his suit, Thomas Bard, along with co-plaintiff's Donald Thomas and Jay Hall, all of whom are African-American, alleged generally that the Bridgeton Police Department "entered into a conspiracy to deprive minority residents of the City of Bridgeton of their civil rights under a pretext of combating drug trafficking and 'gang activity.'" According to the lawsuit, Bridgeton Police had a long history of routinely profiling racial minorities and targeting them for motor vehicle stops, arrests without probable cause and physical assaults. $442,500 was paid to Plaintiff Thomas Bard. and the city's insurer confirmed that co-plaintiffs Donald Thomas and Jay Hall, Jr were paid $7,500 and $80,000 respectively.
On July 16, 2014, the Township of Lacey (Ocean County) agreed to pay $10,000 to three brothers who sued members of the Lacey Police Department for allegedly applying excessive force, falsely arresting them and searching their premises without a warrant.
In their suit, Daniel, John and Joseph Samoles said that on May 27, 2010, police were called after Bessie A. Patten "attempted to extort money from Plaintiff Daniel Samoles at gunpoint." Daniel said that he called police after disarming Patten and that Officers Brian Flynn, Adam Ewart, Gerald Noda, Paul Sullivan, Thomas Bruce, James Veltri and James Wood arrived at the residence. The officers, with guns drawn, ordered the brothers out of the house and told them to get on their knees and raise their hands. The men, who claimed that their home security camera recorded the event, said that the officers arrested them and applied excessive force even though the brothers complied with all police commands. The brothers said that the officers then went into the house without a warrant and searched the family's personal belongings. They also claimed that $2,000 was stolen.
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.