Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lindenwold, New Jersey Man Gets $30k Settlement After Voorhees Traffic Stop

In an agreement reached on July 9, 2008, Voorhees Township and its insurance carrier agreed to pay a Lindenwold man $29,973.75 to settle a civil case that arose out of the man's encounter with Voorhees Police on September 16, 2005. Of the $29,973.75 settlement amount, $10,000 went to the man, Maurice T. Henderson, and $19,973.75 went to Henderson's attorney, Kenneth D. Aita of Haddon Heights.

According to Henderson's complaint, he was returning home from work after a night shift and was lawfully driving 25 mph in a 40 mph zone on White Horse Road, when Voorhees Patrolman Lance Klein "noticed that [he] was a black male" made a U-Turn and pulled him over and asked for his documents. Henderson claimed that after asking Lance why he was being pulled over, Lance "rudely responded that if [Henderson] did not provide the documentation he, would 'lock him up' for obstruction of justice."

Henderson claims that after hearing this, he became fearful and asked to speak to Klein's supervisor. According to the complaint, Klein's supervisor, Sergeant Gerald Slack, came on scene a few minutes later and also told Henderson that "he better provide the information to Klein or they both would lock him up, for obstruction of justice." Henderson claims that he was fearful for his safety, so he phoned the 911 operator a total of six times from his cell phone. The 911 dispatcher told him to go to the police station to file a complaint against the officers.

After receiving two traffic tickets, Henderson said that while leaving the scene, he "yelled, 'crackers' at the officers to express his displeasure with their behavior." Upon hearing the remark, the police gave chase, pulled Henderson over, handcuffed him and arrested him for eluding police. During this encounter, Henderson's pants were allegedly pulled down "and his buttocks and penis were exposed to the officers." One of the officers reported said to him "don't look at me boy, you don't want a piece of me."

On, October 26, 2005, Henderson appeared for a pre-indictment conference before Judge Snyder in Camden County Superior Court. Judge Snyder reportedly dismissed all the charges, including the traffic tickets, but Henderson pleaded guilty to one "disorderly persons offense, for not immediately producing his license when officer Klein requested him to do so."

Henderson's civil complaint and the settlement release are on-line at
http://www.lpcnj.org/OGTF/VoorheesHenderson.pdf

John Paff, Chair
New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project
www.njlp.org