In a lawsuit filed on January 12, 2015, a thirteen year old boy, identified only by the initials C.F., claimed that Millville (Cumberland County) Police Officer Michael Thompson pointed “a gun directly at him” for about 30 seconds after Thompson stopped the boy for riding a motorized dirt bike in a wooded area near Magnolia Avenue on September 27, 2014. The boy and his parent, identified as D.F., claimed that the officer’s decision to pull a gun was unwarranted “because of the lack of severity of the crime at issue, because [the boy] did not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the police officer or others, and because [the boy] was not actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.” According to the lawsuit, filed by Mount Laurel attorney Kevin M. Costello, the officer’s decision to deploy his weapon amounted to excessive force and violated the boy’s rights under both the federal and state constitutions.
After learning about this lawsuit, I filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for the police report, use of force report and other documents related to the event. The police report that I received gives no indication of a gun being used by Officer Thompson. Rather, the report depicts a rather benign event where the boy was allowed to walk his dirt bike home after Thompson verified that it wasn’t stolen.
By John Paff
Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project