Monday, September 5, 2016

Jersey City paid out $14,500 to settle police excessive force lawsuit.

On July 15, 2016, the City of Jersey City (Hudson County) agreed to pay $14,500 to a local man who said that he he was assaulted by several Jersey City police officers and then let go.

In his suit, Tevin Henry claimed that on November 1, 2012, he put his hands up after hearing police yell "freeze."  He said that police "pushed his face into the ground and began hitting him with flashlights and night sticks in the face," "stepped on his chest" and released him without arresting him. 

Named in the suit were Police Chief Thomas J. Convey, Sergeant Stephen Trowbridge, Captain John Sabo, Sergeant Anthony Tedesco, Sergeant Timothy O'Brien and Police Officers William Costigan, Christopher Daliani, Michael J. Rivera, Keith O'Brien, J. Larkins, Anthony Cancel, Vincent Alberto and Brian Cullinane.  The lawsuit was dismissed as to the New Jersey Transit Police and Hudson County Prosecutor's Office.

The case is captioned Henry v. Jersey City et al, Federal Case No. 2:14-cv-05480 and Henry's attorney was Jessica L. DiBiana of Livingston.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Henry's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement resolution expressly states that the $14,500 payment does not admit wrongdoing by Jersey City or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Jersey City or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Henry $14,500 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.