On June 27, 2017, the Elizabeth City Council (Union County) agreed to to pay $97,500 to settle a lawsuit filed a local man who claimed that he was unlawfully arrested and had excessive force applied upon him during his August 26, 2010 arrest.

Yohan Pichardo’s lawsuit is short on specific allegations.  It states only that Elizabeth police officer Bernard Alvarez arrested him with excessive force on August 26, 2010 and that the resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges against him were later dismissed.

The case is captioned Pichardo v. Alvarez, et al, Federal Case No. 2:11-cv-04955 and the Pichardo’s attorney was Joel I Rachmiel of Springfield.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Pichardo’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court and settlement, without more, does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Elizabeth or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Elizabeth or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Pichardo $97,500 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]