On May 25, 2011, the City of Bayonne (Hudson County) agreed to pay $95,000 to two local men who sued members of the Bayonne Police Department for allegedly beating them and arresting them without probable cause.

In their suit, Michael Condo and Craig S. DeRocco said that they were assaulted by police as they left Fratelli’s Bar on Broadway, Bayonne on March 18, 2007. Specifically, Condo said that Bayonne Police Detective David Macre beat, kicked and threw him to the ground while cursing at him. DeRocco claimed that Officer Dominick Lillo tackled him and punched him “numerous times in the face and head.” DeRocco also claimed that Lillo kicked DeRocco’s sister when she asked him to stop beating her brother. The men also accused Detectives William Peterson and Timothy Carey as well as Sergeant Timothy McAuliffe of “assaulting other individuals” who were in the area.

Both men claimed that they were taken to Bayonne Hospital’s Emergency room while handcuffed and then taken back to the police department where they were “booked, searched and detained.” Both men said that they were charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest but that all charges were administratively dismissed by the Hudson County Prosecutor on December 3, 2007.

The case is captioned Condo and DeRocco v. City of Bayonne, Federal Case No. 2:09-cv-01215 and the men were represented by Ida Cambria of New Brunswick. Case documents are on-line here.

None of the men’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 Bayonne or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Bayonne or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the men $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.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]