On June 14, 2013, the State of New Jersey agreed to pay $6,000 to a Newark man who sued members of the New Jersey State Police for allegedly assaulting him, macing him and arresting him without probable cause.

In his suit, Salah Williams said that on January 29, 2008, he was walking near his carpet store in Newark when he was detained without cause by Troopers Gerald Dellagicoma and David Valente.  He claimed that the Troopers “proceeded to physically assault [him] and maced him for no reason at all.”  He also claimed that in order to cover up their improper acts, the Troopers, along with Supervising Trooper Dennis White, “conspired together and filed false criminal charges against” him which were ultimately dismissed.

The case is captioned Williams v. State, Federal Case No. 2:10-cv-03478 and Williams’s attorney was Randy P. Davenport of Newark.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Williams’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $6,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by State or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that State or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Williams $6,000 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]