The Edison Blog: Edison, New Jersey

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Federal judge denies Edison’s plea to dismiss police brutality case

Posted by edison1205 on April 29, 2010

A federal judge today handed Edison a setback in a police brutality lawsuit, denying motions by the township and four police officers to dismiss the case before trial.

The case involves a September 2007 incident where Edison resident Taleb Ahmed was arrested and allegedly beaten by township police officers.

The charges for obstructing justice and resisting arrest were later ‘no-billed’ by a grand jury.  In a January 2008 lawsuit, Ahmed accused the officers of falsely arresting him.  The police responded that even though the grand jury disagreed, and a witness at the scene said not to arrest him, they still had probable cause to arrest him because of two 911 calls.

Ahmed also claims that in executing the arrest, the police “violently attack[ed]” and beat him, which led to physical injuries.  The police say the injuries did not come from a beating but because the man “fell on his face” during a foot chase.

Finally, Ahmed claims that the township is responsible because of a “long history of deliberate indifference to prior police misconduct,” including evidence that only one police officer in the Township of Edison has been disciplined in the last five years, though the police department averages 25 complaints per year, including two complaints against the officer that allegedly beat him.

Ahmed also added that he had previously had a run-in with a township police lieutenant who threatened him at gunpoint.  The lieutenant pulled the gun on him, Ahmed says, because he was displeased that Ahmed was dating the lieutenant’s granddaughter.

Judge Garrett Brown, the chief federal judge in New Jersey, and a 1985 appointee of former president Ronald Reagan, released an opinion today denying the defense request to put an end to the case before trial.

The judge’s opinion, dated last Friday but only released today, says that a jury will have to decide whether there was probable cause to arrest Ahmed, and whether Ahmed’s injuries came from a beating or a fall.  He also said a jury will have to decide whether Edison’s internal affairs procedure is fair to citizens, or leads to “intentionally turning a blind eye to Police misconduct.”

Lastly, the judge said it was “clearly established law” that police cannot unjustifiably assault or injure a victim and that a jury will have to decide justification.

The plaintiff is represented by Marlboro attorney Nicholas Martino, while Richard Guss of Warren represents the township and the four officers who are named individually.

The case is Ahmed v. Township of Edison, No. 08-cv-0066.


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