On September 10, 2014, the New Jersey State Police agreed to pay $25,000 to a Jersey City man who claimed that a State Trooper choked him without justification.

In his suit, Joshua Agosto said that on June 29, 2012 he was arrested and charged with drunk driving and several traffic violations.  He said that while at the police station Trooper Damien Joseph choked him without justification.

The case is captioned Agosto v. Joseph, Federal Case No. 2:13-cv-00667 and Agosto’s attorney was Thomas J. Mallon of Freehold.  Case documents are on-line

None of Agosto’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by State Police or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that State Police or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Agosto $25,000 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]