WATCH: NJ Police Officer Beat Man, ‘Fabricated’ Report and Taxpayers Lost $250K

ELIZABETH – Taxpayers spent $250,000 in a settlement with a Philadelphia man who suffered “significant injuries” to his neck and spine during a police arrest, according to his attorney, and an officer admitted in testimony that he never officially reported that he hit the man with a metal flashlight.

Elizabeth settled Jerome Wright’s lawsuit in October. The suit claimed officers used excessive force – including chemical spray, kicks, punches – then “fabricated” a police report in an effort to “cover up” their actions.

Elizabeth Police Officer Rui Xavier admitted in court testimony he left facts out of his arrest report: Jerome Wright’s hands were up in the air, Xavier struck Wright with a flashlight and kicked him.

Officer Xavier said he “oversaw” facts left out of his report when he was questioned in court and shown a bystander’s video.

Xavier and the other officers who arrested Wright remain on the police force, pension records show.

Wright’s lawsuit follows the pattern of taxpayer-sponsored settlements of alleged police abuse revealed in “Protecting the Shield,” an Asbury Park Press investigation that uncovered more than $42.7 million in similar settlements across New Jersey since 2010.

Wright’s settlement brings that total to more than $43 million. The Press investigation uncovered many claims of harm done by officers – at least 19 people killed and 132 injured, including Wright.

Wright’s lawsuit, Elizabeth’s response and their settlement agreement were obtained from the city by the Asbury Park Press. Wright’s attorney provided Xavier’s report on the incident, use of force reports filed by Xavier and his partner, court transcripts and the bystander’s video, which he said was submitted as evidence in court. The documents are posted at the bottom of this story.

Who is telling the truth?

Wright’s lawsuit challenges the description of the traffic stop in Xavier’s police report and whether police use of force was necessary. Wright and the officers dispute why he got out of his car and whether he “charged” at officers or “stumbled” after he was hit with chemical spray. Wright’s lawsuit claims he raised his hands. The lawsuit includes details on force used by police that aren’t in the official report – details Xavier later admitted in court testimony and which are visible on bystander video.

Xavier’s report stated on June 26, 2013, he and his partner saw Wright’s Dodge minivan run a red light, “nearly colliding with other vehicles and almost striking pedestrians crossing in the cross walk.”

Xavier’s report stated the officers’ unmarked car caught up to the van, using lights and sirens, but Wright ignored them. Wright’s lawsuit shows he stopped when he realized the unmarked car was a police vehicle trying to pull him over.

There’s about half a mile between the intersection where Wright ran a red light and the place he stopped his car.

Xavier’s report stated Wright got out of his car before the officers did, and Xavier drew his gun and pointed it at Wright because the officers feared Wright might be armed.

Wright’s lawsuit claims Xavier drew his gun, ordered Wright from the car and Wright complied.

Xavier’s report stated his partner, Officer Luis Figueiredo, used chemical spray against Wright after Wright refused to put his hands behind his back.

Wright’s lawsuit claims he asked why he was being arrested, then “without warning, justification or cause,” Figueiredo sprayed him. Wright “raised his hands in submission,” a gesture visible on the witness’ video. Then Wright was sprayed again by both officers.

Xavier’s report stated he joined in spraying Wright after Figueiredo’s burst “appeared to have no effect on (Wright).” The second spray “appeared to have angered (Wright) as he charged towards Officer Figueiredo. Officer Figueiredo was able to take Wright to the ground.”

Wright’s lawsuit claims he “stumbled” away from the spray, then Figueiredo kicked him in the legs and struck him in the torso. Wright collapsed and Xavier kicked him in the ribs.

Wright was criminally charged with eluding and resisting arrest in connection with the incident, but found not guilty at trial, according to his attorney, Michael Orozco. Wright is now 57.

Wright was also issued summonses for traffic violations and was found to be wanted on warrants from Newark and Bridgewater, according to Xavier’s report. The outcome of those charges was not immediately known.


Watch the video below:

Watch the unedited video below: