Monday, April 1, 2013

Jackson pays $95,000 to settle police excessive force suit

On March 8, 2013, the Township of Jackson (Ocean County) agreed to pay $95,000 to a local man who sued members of the Jackson Police Department for allegedly assaulting and using excessive force against him.

In his suit, Anthony Ball said that on January 27, 2010 he pulled into a WaWa gas station because his car was critically low on fuel.  While moving the traffic cones that blocked his way to the pump, Officer Jeremy Felder ordered him to drive a different path that did not require him to move the traffic cones.  Ball allegedly "explained that his car would run out of gas if he had to drive to the other store entrance."

Upon hearing this, Felder, along with Officers Arthur Salisbury and Kevin Chesney allegedly pushed Ball "onto the concrete parking lot and assaulted him without justification and with excessive force."  Ball also claimed that the officers misrepresented the facts in order to bring false criminal charges against him.

Also named in the suit was Jackson Police Chief Matthew D. Kunz.

The case is captioned Ball v. Jackson, Federal Case No. 3:10-cv-04254 and Ball's attorney was Thomas J. Mallon of Freehold.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Ball's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $95,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Jackson or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Jackson or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Ball $95,000 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.