Bridgeton city has paid half a million dollars to settle a court case filed by a couple that suffered abuse at the hands of local police two years ago.
However, the department says the officers involved acted responsibly and exactly as they should have, that they engaged in “no wrongful conduct.”
On February 20, 2013 Cheryl DuBose was hoping that the staff at the Bridgeton police station would be helpful. She had gone there looking for her husband.
A police officer named Lieutenant J. Branch seemed to have some information about Phillip DuBose, but his attitude was far from helpful.
He asked: “Wanna see your husband, Missy?”
Then he showed her photograph of her husband, which had been taken only hours ago; in it Philip’s face was bruised and he was bleeding profusely.
For Cheryl this was a complete shock.
In addition to this, the officers at the station made it extremely difficult for her to post her husband’s bail.
They asked her numerous times for her bank book and other documents.
Branch is not the only officer who showed insensitivity towards the DuBoses that night.
There are at least six other officers who contributed to the couple’s trauma.
Earlier that evening, Philip had parked his truck the area of Wood and York streets when Bridgeton police officers told him that he was in the spot illegally.
The man did not disagree with the cops and moved his vehicle to a legal parking space, but was still issued a summons for parking infringement.
He was then handed the citations and the dollar amount associated with them.
Philip lost his temper and smacked the steering wheel, unintentionally he ended up hitting the horn.
This is when several police officers surrounded the vehicle and told him to step outside immediately.
He complied and got out of his truck, little did he know that he was going to regret obeying the cops forever.
As soon as he stepped out the cops punched, kicked, sprayed him with mace and pulled his arms behind his shoulders and pinned him onto the sidewalk, according to reports.
He says at least one officer turned off his body microphone during the attack.
Having physically assaulted him, the abuse turned verbal.
One police officer said to him: “look at your face now, wise guy”.
Then quite a few of the cops took photographs of him, later one of these images was shown to Cheryl when she went looking for him to the police station.
What happened after the abuse?
Philip ended up at a local emergency room where doctors established that he had sustained closed head, shoulder and eye injuries, orbital fracture and multiple cuts.
He was later transferred to Cooper University Hospital for further treatment and tests. Even at the medical facility, he was shackled to his bed – this is despite him being no risk to himself, others and the police officers.
He was charged with disorderly conduct, aggravated assault of a police officer, resisting arrest and obstructing law enforcement.
All allegations were withdrawn by the prosecutor a year after the incident.
However, Philip says not only were his civil rights reached that day, but he also suffered financial losses, public embarrassment, permanent injuries and significant emotional distress – including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Even though the city of Bridgeton has paid for use of excessive force by seven of the men charged with protecting its community, the police department still maintains that none of the officers engaged in wrongful conduct.