Atlantic City police officers are the subject of a lawsuit alleging excessive force and civil-rights violations for the third time in less than two months.
Julius Adams, of Egg Harbor Township, was unlawfully detained and assaulted by police twice in the span of eight months, according to a civil suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Camden. He reportedly suffered "permanent physical disability" following the second incident, outside Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in February 2012.
The lawsuit claims Adams was pulled over June 17, 2011, in a traffic stop by several officers operating without "probable cause or reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing." Two of the officers were identified as Brent Dooley and "Officer Losasso," whose last name is not included in the suit.
Following the arrest, Adams filed a complaint with the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office. According to the suit, the office informed Adams it would not pursue his complaint. He was never informed of the outcome of a subsequent complaint filed with the Police Department's Internal Affairs section.
At the time of Adams' court proceeding, the suit alleges that Dooley and other unknown officers threatened Adams by "punching their hand into their other hand, suggesting that they would inflict physical injury on (Adams) again at a later date."
Eight months later, police officers in a patrol car stopped and detained Adams and two acquaintances after they exited Trump Plaza at about midnight at Florida and Pacific avenues. One officer referred to the neighborhood as a "hot area" before asking the men to provide their identification.
According to the suit, the exchange included a number of racial epithets used by officers against Adams and his companions.
During the exchange, one officer turned to another and asked, "Is that him?," in reference to Adams. "Yeah, that's him," the officer responded. Shortly thereafter, the suit states that "numerous other police cars pulled up the scene."
One officer "forcibly pushed (Adams') head into the wall and handcuffed him, placing the handcuffs on him so tightly that they cut into (Adams') skin," the suit states.
While Adams was still handcuffed, the suit alleges the officers began beating and punching Adams. At one point, Officer Frank Timek allegedly released a police dog on Adams while he was handcuffed. Later, a second dog was released on Adams after one officer told Sgt. Daryl Hall that Adams had kicked the other dog.
After pulling the dogs back, Hall allegedly released Adams' two companions.
"We got your IDs. We know where you live," Hall said, according to the suit. "If you say anything, the same thing will happen to you ... get the (expletive) out of here, (expletive)."
Adam swas briefly treated at a hospital for his injuries, from which he had bled profusely, before being placed in Atlantic County Jail. According to the suit, he was detained there for a week without further medical attention.
Once released, the suit states that Adams' wounds were severely infected and required him to wear wound bags for a number of weeks. He was incapacitated for more than a month and suffered "permanent physical injuries and disability."
In August, Adams was informed that his Internal Affairs complaint pertaining to the February 2012 incident was not sustained.
Jennifer Bonjean, Adams' attorney, said her client's case follows a similar pattern of these cases, in which complaints aren't seriously investigated, the individuals face charges and are then encouraged to plead to lesser charges.
The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based attorney also filed suits on behalf of David Connor Castellani and Janine Costantino, both of whom alleged excessive force in incidents that occurred in or near Atlantic City casinos. Bonjean said she's working on several other cases that will be filed soon.
The recent allegations have garnered national attention and were addressed in public forums hosted by the local chapter of the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network.
Court and police reports in Adams' case were unavailable Saturday.
Police officials and Mayor Lorenzo Langford did not respond to requests for comment Saturday. Langford previously called on federal and state authorities to oversee the Castellani investigation.
Willie Glass, the city's public safety director, said he was not familiar with the latest case and declined further comment.
Adams' case identified at least nine police officers and officials as defendants, in addition the city, its Police Department and the Prosecutor's Office.
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