Settlement In Trooper Beating Case
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
August 22, 2013
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is paying 425-thousand-dollars to a settle a lawsuit filed by a mentally disabled man who was beaten by state troopers.
The state says the settlement is fair and equitable given the clear violation of its use-of-force policy.
Police were looking for a burglary suspect in Warren County in 2009 when they pulled over the car in which James Bayliss was a passenger. He had a brain injury from an earlier accident, and his lawyer says troopers who punched him misinterpreted his disability as resisting them.
Attorney Bob Woodruff is concerned it took four years to resolve the case.
“I would like to see these things move a little quicker because what you get is a sense that someone is trying to protect somebody, and that’s not good for the general public. That’s not good for the public’s understanding and confidence and belief in the police.”
The incident was captured by a dashboard camera in the state police car. Without that videotape, Woodruff says, it would have been difficult to prove the troopers’ actions were inappropriate.
“But for the video camera my client just would have just been another kid that was stopped by the police. They would have argued that he was assaultive and how was he going to prove his case with six or seven or eight or a dozen police officers standing there?”
Woodruff says the videotape policy needs to be strictly adhered to.
“One of the three cars that were there that night, the officers turned off the video, and as discovery shown that particular angle that that car was at probably would have given us even a better opportunity to see what went on.”
The Attorney General’s office says a dashboard recording device is supposed to be activated when a motor vehicle stop is initiated, and the recording ends after the completion of the stop.