A State Police trooper recently sued Hamilton Township, claiming he was falsely charged with driving while intoxicated in 2011 in retaliation for his brother’s previous legal actions against the Police Department.
Trooper Jason D. Dare’s suit, filed Feb. 13, did not specify how much money was being sought. The suit was filed in the Law Division, generally used in cases with claims in excess of $15,000.
His brother, Nicholas J. Dare, had sued Hamilton Township in April 2012, claiming $500,000 in damages from harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment.
The Dares’ attorney, Conrad J. Benedetto, also represents former township Committeeman Charles Cain, who is suing the township following a January 2011 DWI arrest in which he claimed he was targeted. In a statement, Benedetto said the three suits “establish a pattern of intentional and retaliatory harassment and violations of civil rights by the Township of Hamilton command staff.”
Township officials have repeatedly denied wrongdoing, pointing to Cain, 46, being found guilty and losing a subsequent appeal.
The Police Department hired Nicholas Dare in June 2003. Court records show he faced internal affairs charges in 2006, 2007 and 2009 for criticizing a supervisor, an on-duty crash and not returning another officer’s private emails directly to the department.
He was suspended for six days following an internal hearing in 2010, a ruling later upheld by Superior Court Judge Valerie H. Armstrong in April 2011, according to court records.
Nicholas Dare was out of work following a shoulder injury between February 2011 and February 2012. Once he returned to work, his suit said, the department ordered he not talk to co-workers, while repeatedly ordering him to be psychologically evaluated. He repeatedly and unsuccessfully asked the courts to keep him from attending the evaluations and was eventually put on administrative leave.
Dare faced additional internal affairs charges in late December, township police Chief Stacy V. Tappeiner said, including a failed drug test, insubordination and failure to cooperate with an investigation. Tappeiner said the department was moving to dismiss him over the charges.
Nicholas Dare was 35 when he committed suicide in January. Benedetto said his lawsuit remains active, saying there was “absolutely” a link between the suit and his death.
Jason D. Dare is assigned to the Atlantic City Expressway barracks.
In December 2011, the 37-year-old Vineland resident went to a Christmas party with four other troopers and drank between two and five beers over five hours. A previous attorney, Kevin McCann, earlier told The Press of Atlantic City he didn’t think the 220-pound man was drunk.
In his suit, he said he crashed his car on a wooded stretch of Route 40 west of Mays Landing in the early hours of Dec. 16, 2011, while avoiding a deer. McCann told The Press that Dare hit his head and may have been unconscious for 10 to 12 minutes.
Hamilton Township Officer James A. Esposito was first to arrive at the scene. The suit said Dare told him he had hit his head. Esposito put him in the back of his patrol car to take him home or to the hospital and radioed that “Trooper Dare” had been involved in the accident.
The suit said Sgt. Christopher Gehring soon arrived with officers Trenton Lee and L. Rudolph, and Esposito told Rudolph that Jason Dare was Nicholas Dare’s brother.
The suit said Gehring first instructed Lee to conduct a field sobriety test on Jason Dare, and then Gehring instructed Dare be arrested and handcuffed.
Dare repeatedly complained that he had badly hurt his head, but was charged with driving while intoxicated. When Dare further complained and asked why he was being taken to the police station, the suit said, Gehring charged Dare with refusing to take a breath test and careless driving, then he was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Dare was immediately suspended without pay. State records indicate he is paid $81,840 per year, and lost about $50,000 because of the suspension.
Dare contested the charges, presenting evidence at trial in July 2012 that he repeatedly sought treatment for a concussion. Hamilton Township Municipal Court Judge H. Robert Switzer ruled that Dare had failed his field sobriety tests because he had suffered a concussion, not because he was drunk. Dare was also cleared of the other charges and was restored to the force.
On Friday, township Administrator Michael J. Jacobs said he had not seen Jason Dare’s suit and had no comment. Tappeiner pointed out that Switzer had found probable cause for the arrest.
“He was treated the same as any other citizen is treated when alcohol is involved,” Tappeiner added.
In a statement, Benedetto said “Trooper Dare’s motor vehicle accident became more than an accident once the Township of Hamilton police realized trooper Dare was officer Nicholas Dare’s brother.”
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