On February 19, 2014, the Township of Jackson (Ocean County), according to a confidential agreement, agreed to pay $25,000 to a local man who sued members of the Jackson Police Department for allegedly beating him and forcing his wife to use a bail bond company allegedly having financial connections to a former Jackson police officer.
In his suit, Salvatore Day said that on December 20, 2009 Jackson police responded to his home because he had been in a verbal altercation with a neighbor. When police were at his door, he claimed that his wife "attempted to close the door momentarily to get [Day's] dogs away from the doorway." At that point, he claimed that officers, including Joseph Candido, Michael Cavallo, James Reynolds and/or Gregory Vidalis pushed the door open and "spun [his] body around, pushed him against wall and threw him to the floor, kneed him in his neck, and yanked his arms behind his back."
Day claimed that at headquarters, the officers refused to let him call his brother to borrow bail money. When Day's wife came to headquarters, Day claimed that she was given a pen by police that was embossed with "a bail bondsman's name and telephone number" and that police told his wife "to call the bail bondsman quickly to make bail on [Day] or he would be sent to the county jail."
The wife called the bondsman and, according to the complaint, the bondsman "arrived at [Day's] home and pressured her into signing paperwork retaining them" even though Day's brother had enough money to pay the bail without using a bail bond. Day said that he believed that "a former Jackson Township police officer either owns or is employed by the bail bonds company used by [his] wife under duress."
Also named in the suit were Jackson Police Chief Matthew D. Kunz, Sergeant John Decker and Detective Scott Conover.
The case is captioned Day v. Jackson, Federal Case No. 3:10-cv-0401 and Day's attorney was Thomas J. Mallon of Freehold. Case documents are on-line here.
The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms. Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.
None of Day's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Jackson or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Jackson or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Day $25,000 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.