Friday, December 27, 2013

Keansburg pays $5,000 to settle police false arrest suit

On March 28, 2013, the Borough of Keansburg (Monmouth County) agreed to pay $5,000 to a local woman and her minor son who sued members of the Keansburg Police Department for allegedly detaining them without probable cause and subjecting them to "coercive, psychological interrogation tactics."

In their suit, Colleen Davis and her then nine-year old son said that their vehicle was stopped on December 14, 2007 and taken into custody by Patrol Officers Jason Lopez, Francis Wood, Joseph Pezzano, Joseph Kane, Nicolas Angerami and Michael Pigott.  Davis claimed that the officers arrested her without probable cause and with their service weapons drawn.  She alleged that the officers verbally abused, threatened and physically assaulted her in front of her son and threatened both her and her son with having her son taken away by the Division of Youth and Family Services.  Ultimately, she claimed, she was "brow-beat" into giving a statement concerning a crime allegedly committed by her boyfriend, Donald Neri. She was charged with Disorderly Conduct and was ultimately found not guilty of that charge.

She further claimed that the Keansburg Police continued to her harass her after the December 14, 2007 which forced her to relocate to Port Monmouth, New Jersey.

Also named in the suit was Keansburg Police Chief Raymond O'Hare.

The case is captioned Davis v. Keansburg, Federal Case No. 3:09-cv-06277 and Davis's attorney was Robert F. Varady of Union.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Davis' allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $5,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Keansburg or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Keansburg or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Davis $5,000 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.