Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Willingboro pays $25,000 to settle police false arrest/excessive force suit

On September 12, 2012, the Township of Willingboro (Burlington County) agreed to pay $25,000 to a local man who sued a Willingboro police officer for allegedly beating him and arresting him without probable cause.

In his suit, Jullian D. Booker (also referred to as Jullian F. Booker) said that on April 2, 2009 he was riding in a car driven by Sylvester Williams when it was pulled over by Willingboro Police Officer Sean Malone.  He said that Malone, accompanied by a police dog, pointed a gun at Booker's head and screamed "Get the f**k out of the car." 

After pulling Booker out of the car, Malone allegedly threw Booker onto the concrete pavement, punched him several times in the head and screamed "if you f**king move I'll have my f**king dog bite your f**king face off."  He claims that Malone's punches caused his lip, which was between the concrete and his teeth, to receive a massive gash.  He claims that he was charged with resisting arrest and eluding an officer but that both charges were later dismissed.

The case is captioned Booker v. Willingboro, Federal Case No. 1:10-cv-04886 and Booker's attorney was Robert H. Bembry, III of Philadelphia.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Booker's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Willingboro or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Willingboro or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Booker $25,000 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.