On June 10, 2014, Montclair Attorney Richard M. Gutman filed a lawsuit on my behalf challenging the Ocean County Prosecutor’s denial of my Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for a video that allegedly depicts a police officer intentionally siccing his police dog on a 57-year-old woman. The lawsuit and brief, captioned Paff v. Ocean County Prosecutor, Docket No. OCN-L-1645-14, is on-line here.
I requested the video after reading about Tuckerton Police Corporal Justin Cherry being charged with second-degree official misconduct and third-degree aggravated assault after he “allegedly allowed a K-9 to attack and bite a woman following a traffic stop earlier this year.” The dog attack allegedly occurred on January 29, 2014 and was filmed by a security video camera on the outside of the Barnegat municipal building. An April 21, 2014 Star Ledger article on the alleged attack is on-line here.
My request for the video was denied by Ocean County Assistant Prosecutor O. Nicholas Monaco on May 28, 2014. In his letter, Monaco stated that “this office cannot release the requested recording as it involves a criminal investigation in progress, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 47:1A-3 as well as an internal affairs matter, pursuant to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Guidelines on Internal Affairs Policy and Procedures.” Gutman and I argue that the tape cannot be shielded from disclosure because it preceded both the criminal and IA investigations.
Monaco disclosed, however, copies of the complaints filed against the woman who was the victim of the alleged dog attack which identify her as Wendy Tucker of Barnegat.