N.J. town’s cops attacked lawyer who argued with Uber driver, lawsuit says

A federal judge last week ordered the Hudson County Attorney’s Office to release Internal Affairs documents to a man who was filing a lawsuit alleging he was assaulted by police after he got into a fight with an Uber three years ago. driver was advised.

Attorney Timothy Alexander, a civil rights activist, says in court filings that three Guttenberg police officers attacked him around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 16, 2019, after an argument with the driver, who was illegally parked in a fire zone and washing his SUV .

“The false arrest came after a minor disagreement between Alexander and an unidentified Uber driver was resolved,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Newark on Aug. 9, 2021.

“The dispute (ended) uneventfully with the Uber driver duly instructed to park in a lawful, secure location to hand wash his truck and await his fare, and Alexander attempted to return to his home in Tower 1 condominiums to return to in the Galaxy Towers,” the lawsuit reads.

But before he could enter the building, police officers took Alexander to the ground and handcuffed him, according to the lawsuit.

The suit says officers “leaned against the laundry” from behind Alexander as he tried to walk away and threw him onto the pavement, with one officer pinning him to his head with a knee while another had a knee on his laid his back and another officer sat astride him.

Last week, federal judge Cathy L. Waldor directed the Hudson County Attorney’s Office to turn over internal affairs files across the Guttenberg Police Department by November 28 at the latest.

The materials will be marked “confidential” and “for attorneys only” prior to the judge’s review, the order said. The defense attorneys have until December 1 to argue whether the documents should be admissible according to the judge’s decision.

Jorge de Armas, an attorney for Guttenberg, said Friday he could not comment on pending litigation, but noted that the city is “vigorously” defending itself against the lawsuit.

Cosmo Cirillo, the city manager, did not respond to calls and emails last week to comment on the lawsuit.

In his complaint, Alexander says he tried to enter his building after the argument ended when officers “very aggressively” approached him and told him he couldn’t go home.

The attorney says in court filings that he showed officers his driver’s license, told them the matter with the Uber driver was resolved, and noted that he had lived in the same building for 10 years.

“Finally, after about 15 minutes of abuse, bullying, improper improper detention and humiliation, Alexander notified officers that he was going home,” the lawsuit reads.

“All three defendants jumped on Alexander, arrested him and handcuffed him,” the lawsuit says.

An unknown witness took a photo of the arrest showing police officers pointing at Alexander on the sidewalk. The photo was admitted as an exhibit in the civil rights lawsuit. There is no video of the incident.

Alexander said he was taken to a Guttenberg prison in a police car in his suit, and then handcuffed to a local hospital, where police tried to get medical staff to draw blood from him. The lawsuit says the hospital refused to draw blood from the attorney without a warrant.

The lawsuit alleges that none of the officers in the case filed reports of “use of force” two years ago.

In New Jersey, police may use physical or mechanical force, such as B. a stun gun, only use when other measures have been exhausted.

The state’s use of force policy requires police to report detailed information about the incident to the state within 24 hours of the use of force.

“On or about July 13, 2021, fabricated and post-dated reports of the use of force were prepared by or on behalf of the defendant officers with the assistance and cooperation of (others),” the lawsuit states.

Three days after the incident, Guttenberg police arrested Alexander again while he was walking his dog in front of his building around 7 a.m., the lawsuit says. This time Alexander was charged with theft because he allegedly stole “sensitive” police documents at the time of his release, the lawsuit says.

However, the lawsuit states that Alexander did not steal any police documents, but instead took what he believed to be his property.

“Before the eyes of at least two officers who were less than two feet away, according to GPD video, Alexander (took) the papers and plastic bag containing his belongings, stopped to shake hands with an officer and exited the (facility) ‘ the lawsuit states.

On October 16, 2019, Alexander again got into trouble with the Guttenberg police. The lawsuit says he was charged with molestation and cyber harassment for walking his dog past one of his arresting officers and posting facts about his case on social media, the lawsuit states.

“In total, Alexander was charged with a total of nine criminal charges,” the lawsuit reads. All charges were dismissed on July 16, 2021, the lawsuit states. In exchange for dismissing the criminal charge, Alexander pleaded guilty to violating a city noise ordinance and paid a fine.

The lawsuit alleges that Guttenberg police, both before and after Alexander’s arrest, engaged in a “pervasive and systemic pattern, custom, and practice of constitutional violations, including conspiracy, false arrest, unlawful detention, malicious prosecution, and use of excessive force.” .

“Guttenberg and GPD are known for their illegal and inappropriate behavior. There have been numerous incidents, complaints and lawsuits,” the lawsuit reads.

The judge’s ruling on Tuesday came after Alexander’s attorneys subpoenaed the Hudson County Attorney’s Office to see if they had conducted any investigations into Guttenberg police. Some of the reports have to do with the officers who arrested him and could help prove his case in federal court, they argued.

The judge is expected to review the documents and determine if they are relevant to the civil proceeding. According to the order, a case management conference is planned for December 5th.

Anthony G Attrino can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.