Friday, August 10, 2012

Brick pays $275,000 to settle police shooting suit

On July 16, 2012, the Township of Brick (Ocean County) agreed to pay $275,000 to a local man who sued members of the Brick Police Department for allegedly unnecessarily shooting him in the hip.

In his suit, Salim Cofi said that on January 8, 2009, he was in a Waterside Garden Apartment when Brick Police Sergeant Terrance Covert shot him in the hip, causing a fractured femur.  Cofi claims to have been unarmed at the time.  He further claims that after being shot, police handcuffed him and "then conversed among themselves for an extended period of time before transport to the hospital was arranged."

Cofi claimed that he was arrested for cocaine possession but ended up taking a guilty plea to a disorderly persons violation, which required only the payment of fines and costs and not jail time or probation.

Also named in the suit were Lieutenant Frank Docherty, Sergeant Todd Friedman, Investigators Kristopher Demarco, Michael Pluta, and Kenneth Hess and Patrolman Lawrence Petrola.

The case is captioned Cofi v. Brick Township, Federal Case No. 3:2011-cv-00087 and Cofi's attorney was Jeffrey S. Arons of South Orange.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Cofi's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $275,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Brick or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Brick or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Cofi $275,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.