On September 28, 2011, the Town of Dover (Morris County) agreed to pay $185,000 to a man who sued members of the Dover Police Department for allegedly beating him and arresting him without probable cause.

In his suit, Steven Echevarria said that on April 11, 2008 he was arrested without probable cause by Officers Joe Camacho and Paul Wilkes.  He claimed that after his arrest, Office Camacho removed him from his cell “took him to a back area within the police department where he unlawfully and physically assaulted” Echevarria “inflicting serious personal injuries upon him.”

The case is captioned Echevarria v. Camacho, New Jersey Superior Court, Morris County, Docket No. MRS-L-1806-09 and Echevarria’s attorney was Joel I. Rachmiel of Springfield.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Echevarria’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $185,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Dover or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Dover or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Echevarria $185,000 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]