7/31/2019New Jersey: Whistleblower Cop Wins Bigger Payout
Atlantic City, New Jersey cop who crossed the thin blue line over DUI coverup is entitled to more compensation, a court ruled.
An Atlantic City, New Jersey, police officer who crossed the thin blue line to turn in a police sergeant for allegedly covering up a drunk driving arrest won a chance at receiving more money in compensation. The state Superior Court's appellate division ruled earlier this month that Frank Timek, who was already awarded $40,000 by a jury, should have also been awarded punitive damages after his superiors retaliated against him.
Timek was a K-9 officer who responded to an incident at Proud Mary's Sports Bar on March 22, 2012. A drunken patron was resisting attempts by other officers to take him into custody. A sergeant at the scene insisted that the drunk patron only be charged with disorderly conduct, rather than the more serious offense of driving under the influence or assault on a police officer. The sergeant also canceled the call for an ambulance and, according to Timek, was attempting to cover for the patron.
Officer Timek called the internal affairs unit the next day to report the sergeant. He later informed the Atlantic County prosecutor's office. Two weeks later, Lieutenant Gregory Anderson called Officer Timek into his office to ask whether he really wanted to go through with the complaint, warning that Officer Timek might "lose his dog" if he proceeded.
Internal affairs ultimately cleared the sergeant, and Timek lost his position in the K-9 unit. He was also suspended for ninety days after being accused of using excessive force -- even after a hearing officer had cleared Timek of wrongdoing in the videotaped incident. The department's training officer, Lieutenant Eric Scheffler, explained in court the way officers are trained to act.
"The jury had the opportunity to view the tape and hear Scheffler's opinion that Timek responded appropriately in employing force, including Scheffler's response during cross-examination that reasonable minds could differ as to whether excessive force was used," the three-judge appellate panel ruled. "Likewise, we determine reasonable minds could differ as to whether defendant's actions were retaliatory violations."
The appellate panel ruled that the lower court was wrong not to allow the jury to consider awarding punitive damages. The appellate division found a "sufficient case" for the consideration.
A copy of the ruling is available in a 200k PDF file at the source link below.