From the time that we are children, most of us are taught that law enforcement officers are trustworthy. This respect and admiration comes with the uniform. Unfortunately, some police officers abuse their power and take unfair advantage of their connection to the legal system.
It was seemingly for this reason that one man is only now reaching a settlement related to a 2009 car accident with a New Jersey State Police vehicle. The officer involved in the crash was driving with a blood-alcohol level three times higher than the legal limit, and the other officers who responded to the crash colluded to keep his identity a secret from the victim.
When the unmarked patrol car struck his vehicle, the man’s SUV flipped over and literally left him hanging upside down in his seat. The responding officers protected the identity of their drunk-driving colleague by listing his undercover identification on the accident report. The victim spent the next two years trying to contact him but was unsuccessful for obvious reasons.
The officer’s identity was finally learned in 2011 with investigative help from a news agency. After another few years of fighting for justice, the plaintiff finally secured a settlement in May that was finalized last month. He has agreed to drop all claims against the State Police in exchange for $150,000. The agreement also allows the State Police to admit no wrongdoing.
It is more than disheartening to realize that law enforcement agencies can’t always be counted on to do the right thing. The accident victim finally received some compensation, but it was a needlessly long and difficult process. Hopefully, his case will inspire others to fight back against law enforcement corruption in order to hold irresponsible officers liable for the accidents and injuries they cause.
Source: NJ.com, "N.J. pays $150K to man injured in crash with drunk State Police detective," Christopher Baxter, July 24, 2014