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New Jersey Cops Beat a Man So Bad They Crushed His Eye Socket. The City Gives Him a Mere $300K Settlement Six Years Later.

Jersey City has agreed to settle a federal police brutality lawsuit for six figures with a man beaten so severely by police that he suffered damage to his eye during a 2016 arrest.

The man filed a civil rights complaint four years ago, claiming officers in the New Jersey city apprehended him for no reason and used excessive force “causing serious injury.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 11, city council members approved the $300,000 settlement officials made with Antoin Morrieson on Nov. 16, noting that the payout will come from the Jersey City Insurance Fund, according to NJ.com.

New Jersey Man Gets $300K settlement from New Jersey City Following Police Beating
Antoin Morrieson suffered damage to his eye during a 2016 arrest. (Photos: Twitter/Antoin Morrieson, YouTube screenshot/CBS New York)

The federal excessive force claim named Daniel Soto, Ruandy Mendoza, Philip Chidichimo and Joseph Weaver as defendants and alleged that the police officers did not truthfully disclose the events surrounding Morrieson’s arrest.

Officers Soto and Mendoza said they saw Morrieson and recognized him as a “Be On the Lookout,” or “BOLO,” a classification issued by the police department for a person of interest. Once they saw him, they alleged they witnessed him selling drugs, according to court documents.

Morrieson said that isn’t true and that before the plainclothes cops approached him near the area of Hopkins Avenue and Concord Street, he was walking with a female friend and not involved in a drug transaction.

One point of contention is whether the officers identified themselves as law enforcement.

Mendoza and Soto have said that they exited their patrol “vehicle with their badges exposed and identified themselves as police.”

As Mendoza approached, Morrieson had his hands in his hoodie. Morrieson was asked to reveal his hands, but when he didn’t acquiesce, officers grabbed Morrieson’s arms and restrained him so he could not move or attempt to flee.

Morrieson said the officers did not announce who they were when they approached and when he asked them to identify themselves after they approached, they used “gratuitous and unnecessary force” to take him into custody, “causing serious injury,” according to an 11-page federal lawsuit he filed in 2018.

He also said “Mendoza and Soto never instructed him to take his hands out of his pocket” in his lawsuit and that at no point during the arrest did he attempt to “strike the officers, actively resist arrest, grab at the officers’ guns, or try to flee.”

The complaint also says, “As a direct and proximate result of (police officers’) acts and/or omissions, (Morrieson) was humiliated, disgraced, suffered damage to his reputation, physical and mental anguish and injury, and monetary loss and damage.”

A specific injury Morrieson sustained was a broken eye socket at the hands of the officers.

A 26-page summary judgment decision from the state of New Jersey’s United States District Court obtained by Atlanta Black Star said the court did not believe the two police officers’ accounts.

“Video footage shows that plaintiff’s hands were covering his face during the encounter … Moreover, based on a review of the videos, it does not appear that plaintiff was attempting to escape or elude the officers,” the ruling said.

The summary ruling also noted the footage did not show the entire incident, saying, “Nonetheless, plaintiff has provided sufficient ‘evidence supporting a conclusion that (Mendoza and Soto) are aware that evidence is incorrect or that the evidence is offered in bad faith.’ ”

The judge recommended that the case be reviewed by a jury.

According to the summary judgment, “Conflicting evidence must be weighed by a jury to resolve whether the officers had probable cause to arrest Morrieson, whether they used reasonable force in effectuating the arrest, and whether they were aware that the evidence they provided against Morrieson was incorrect or offered in bad faith.”

The city opted to just settle, resulting in a more than quarter of a million dollar award to Morrieson years after the event.

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