CAMDEN — Closing arguments are expected Tuesday after more than a month’s worth of testimony concluded Monday from a Somers Point man, three resort officers and several experts in an excessive-force case that has put the Atlantic City Police Department’s internal affairs policies on trial.
Atlantic County resident Steven Stadler was arrested by three Atlantic City police officers for burglarizing a car wash and resisting arrest March 13, 2013.
Exactly five years after that incident, a jury will likely begin deliberations on whether the officers’ use of force was reasonable or a violation of Stadler’s constitutional rights.
Witness testimony in the civil case brought against Officers Glenn Abrams Jr. and William Moore and former Officer John Devlin concluded in Judge Robert Kugler’s courtroom Monday, with opinions from two experts on police use-of-force and K-9 policies.
Former Atlantic City police Officer and K-9 expert Dennis McSweeny, who has been a certified K-9 trainer for more than 50 years, testified the officers acted appropriately when they used force and a dog to apprehend Stadler because he was resisting arrest and not heeding warnings from them to stop and comply.
CAMDEN — Defense attorneys for three Atlantic City police officers involved in a civil trial…
Stadler says he was illegally beaten by the officers and suffers from scarring and permanent nerve damage.
McSweeny said any injury Stadler suffers from is because he resisted arrest after the officers caught him burglarizing the car wash.
He also testified that using a K-9 was appropriate even though there were three officers against one suspect because the overall confrontation was violent.
“(Officer Devlin) exhausted all other means (before releasing the dog on Stadler),” McSweeny said. “He had the dog barking, he gave (Stadler) three warnings, and (Stadler) is a guy who took Percocets, crack-cocaine and drank alcohol all before this happened.”
Pressed by attorneys why he believed the officers’ story over Stadler’s, McSweeny said the officers have more credibility and pointed out Stadler pleaded guilty after the incident.
A second witness for the defense, former Burlington City police Chief Bryon Marshall, said he also believed the officers’ story and that the use of force was reasonable because it was a violent struggle that required two officers and a dog to apprehend Stadler.
The court case also caused controversy in the city’s government.
Last week, Atlantic City councilman Jeffree Fauntleroy posted on Facebook that the cops involved in this case have been “corrupt and rogue” for years.
The post immediately garnered backlash, and the president of the Police Benevolent Association’s is now calling on the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to conduct an ethics investigation into Fauntleroy.
Attorneys for Stadler and the officers will give their final arguments at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Camden. Jury deliberations will begin after the arguments are completed.