On March 7, 2016, the Borough of Metuchen (Middlesex County) agreed to pay $2,000 to a man who claimed that police applied excessive force when arresting him.

In his complaint, Matthew Kuchar said that on May 20, 2014, tackled him to the ground and lifted him by his cuffed hands.  Named in the complaint are Sergeant A. Flaherty (presumably Arthur M. Flaherty) and Officers Joseph Wenskowski and Kevin Doherty.

The case is captioned Kuchar v. Borough of Metuchen, et al, Federal Case No. 15-cv-03464 and Kuchar’s attorney was Patrick G. Patel of Jersey City, but it appears that Kuchar was not represented when the settlement was consummated.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Kuchar’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $2,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Metuchen or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Metuchen or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Kuchar $2,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants’ decision 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 resolve 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]