On June 18, 2014, the Borough of Penns Grove and the Township of Carneys Point (Salem County) agreed to pay $2,000,000 to the four minor daughters of a man who died while in police custody.
In her suit, Judith Mincey, the mother of MoShowon Leach, claimed that Penns Grove Police Officers Raymond Rinnier and Joseph Schultz choked Leach to death during his arrest on March 21, 2010. According to the complaint, Leach was disoriented and “fighting the air” when police were called to the parking lot in which he was located. Leach allegedly ignored the officers’ requests for him to stop and while he was entering the residence of a relative, Officers Rinnier and Schultz allegedly “descended upon him, maced him and took him to ground.” There, Schultz allegedly told Rinnier to “choke him out.” Leach was pronounced dead a short time later. Schultz allegedly said at the scene that “Ray [Rinnier] had to put [Leach] to sleep.”
Also named in the suit was Penns Grove Police Chief Gary Doubledee. Carneys Point was named in the suit because two of its officers, Joseph Johnson and Andrew Kleban, allegedly “jumped on Leach’s back and joined the attack on Leach” when they later arrived on the scene.
The case is captioned Mincey v. Penns Grove, Federal Case No. 1:11-cv-01727 and Mincey’s attorneys were Stanley O. King and Sharon A. King of Woodbury. Case documents are on-line here.
None of Leach’s estate’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $2,000,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Penns Grove and Carneys Point or any of their officials. All that is known for sure is that Penns Grove and Carneys Point or their insurer, for whatever reason, decided that they would rather pay Leach’s estate $2,000,000 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.