Excessive Force Allegations Lead to $675,000 Settlement with Bound Brook NJ Police
Written by: Sam Orlando
BOUND BROOK, NJ — An out-of-court settlement has been reached over allegations of excessive force during a 2015 arrest by the Bound Brook Police Department. The borough will pay $675,000 to Alfred Lawson of Union County, who claimed police assaulted him while he was handcuffed. The settlement, initially reported by Transparency NJ, was agreed upon in March.
In the early hours of October 24, 2015, officers responded to a fight at the intersection of Talmage and Vosseller avenues. The officers encountered a 30-year-old man with facial injuries, who identified Lawson and Nestor Crespo as his assailants.
Lawson was said to have resisted arrest and fought with the officers. In addition, he was accused of damaging a police vehicle while attempting to escape. Both Lawson and Crespo were charged with robbery after the victim's cellphone and car keys were discovered nearby.
However, Lawson presented a starkly different account in his lawsuit, originally filed in Somerset County's Superior Court in 2017 and later transferred to Middlesex County. He asserted that five officers assaulted him prior to his arrest. After he was handcuffed, Lawson alleges one officer punched him in the face while others restrained him, resulting in significant facial injuries.
Further claims in the lawsuit assert that the officers attempted to conceal the assault by falsifying their reports. The lawsuit also alleges excessive force, failure to intervene, supervisory liability, an unlawful policy of failure to discipline, and a violation of the state Civil Rights Act.
Lawson, now 42, was ultimately convicted of third-degree aggravated assault after his robbery charge was downgraded. He was also convicted of fourth-degree criminal mischief damage of property. Charges of resisting arrest and criminal attempt of escaping detention were dismissed. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
Bound Brook and its police department maintained that Lawson exhibited a "bizarre and uncontrollable demeanor" during his arrest. The Borough continues to deny all allegations made in Lawson's suit and does not admit to any wrongdoing or liability as part of the settlement.
The settlement will be funded by the Middlesex County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund. Approximately $14,000 of the total sum will be allocated to satisfy Lawson's child support arrears.