On February 23, 2013, the Township of Winslow (Camden County) agreed to pay $42,500 to a local man who sued members of the Winslow Police Department for allegedly applying excessive force upon him.

In his suit, Ronald Brown said that on September 18, 2008 he was sitting in parked car when Officer Sean Richards approached on a bicycle and ordered him to exit the vehicle and place his hands on the car.  He claimed that after he complied, Officer Richards handcuffed him and threw him on the ground.  Brown claimed that his injuries were serious enough to warrant a one-week stay in a jail infirmary.

Also named in the suit was Winslow Police Chief Anthony Bello.

The case is captioned Brown v. Winslow, Federal Case No. 1:10-cv-04774 and Brown’s attorney was Randy P. Catalano of Westmont.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Brown’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $42,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Winslow or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Winslow or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Brown $42,500 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]