Law & Justice

Man Alleges New Brunswick Cops Beat Him, Waited Hours to Call for Medical Care


NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — A man who was arrested by city police in December 2015 has filed a civil complaint against two officers, the city, the police department and others, alleging police broke his ribs, punctured a lung and waited for hours to get him medical treatment.

Attorneys for New Brunswick and its police officers, meanwhile, have submitted subsequent court documents denying any wrongdoing.

The nine-count lawsuit, filed by city resident Dion Napier in United States District Court in June, seeks an unspecified monetary award for the alleged mistreatment, along with the reimbursement of attorneys' fees, according to a copy of the document obtained by TAPinto New Brunswick.

Sign Up for E-News

In the complaint, Napier claims he was wrongfully arrested and imprisoned on Dec. 8, 2015, after being punched, kneed and pepper-sprayed by two New Brunswick police officers, Jonathan Rivera and Michael Powers. The complaint also claims that as many as 10 unnamed cops allowed Napier to sit in a holding cell for four hours, “writhing in pain,” before being taken to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.

Further, Napier's complaint claims, the city, its police force and Police Director Anthony Caputo enabled the alleged incident to occur due to improper training and policies or practices, which created a culture that allowed excessive force and the violation of rights.

“The plaintiff has sustained permanent physical and psychological trauma, has suffered great pain and discomfort and continues to experience physical and psychological damage,” reads the complaint, referencing the arrest's alleged effects on Napier.

Shortly after the incident, residents took to City Hall to voice their concerns about the police department's alleged treatment of Napier, according to a story by New Brunswick Today.

The city and its police department have strongly rejected any claims of police brutality resulting from the Napier arrest. City officials, however, declined to comment on pending litigation when asked today by TAPinto New Brunswick.

But in his defense against the civil complaint, Rivera—one of two arresting officers—claimed that Napier handed him a bag of marijuana after police noticed a “faint smell” of the drug coming from the car he was in. Then, Rivera claimed, Napier took off running, and police chased him down.

The police officer claimed that Napier was found guilty of the criminal charges that “were the basis” of his arrest.

Each defendant denied each allegation raised by Napier—from stomping on his constitutional rights and using excessive force to directly causing his injuries.

But Napier offered a different story in his complaint.

In that document, Napier didn't admit any wrongdoing—only that police claimed he had weed. What's more, the complaint claims, Napier was sitting in a friend's car near D'Palace Bar on Throop Avenue, eating food and “not engaged in any criminal activity” at the time of the incident.

Rivera and Powers pulled behind Napier and gave him a warning for tinted windows, even though he didn't own the vehicle, the complaint alleges. They soon returned and said they heard there was an arrest warrant out for Napier, which he claimed was for a different person with a similar name, the document alleges.

Eventually, Napier “became nervous” due to the officers' behavior and ran, the complaint claims. Rivera and Powers eventually caught up with him and “engaged in unreasonable and excessive force,” breaking his ribs, puncturing his lung, causing bruises and lacerations and burning his eyes and skin, the complaint alleges.

The cops brought Napier to police headquarters, the complaint alleges, where he waited in a cell and complained about his injuries. But no one in the building offered to get him medical care for hours, the document alleges.

When he finally did receive treatment, the wait had allegedly exacerbated his injuries, the document claims. Then he underwent surgery to repair his lung, according to the complaint.

Napier claims that the conduct and actions of the police officers and the department were intentional, reckless, malicious and with disregard for his rights and welfare. What's more, he claims, this type of behavior is institutional and endangers the public at large.

Napier's looking for a jury trial, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney's fees and any other relief deemed appropriate.

While the defendants haven't admitted in court papers to any physical contact, they have argued that any injuries or damages to Napier were caused by someone “presently unknown” to the defendants or Napier himself.

“The intentional, unlawful and criminal conduct of the plaintiff is the direct and proximate cause of his damages, if any,” an attorney for Rivera wrote in his response to the complaint.

Altogether, in writing, the city and its employees have offered up more than 100 separate defenses to the claims made by Napier. They also claimed that Napier filed the lawsuit in bad faith and should be forced to pay their attorneys' fees.

The city government has agreed to pay the legal fees for the affected employees.

Napier, meanwhile, claims that the alleged “battery” against him has caused suffering, emotional distress, humiliation and even a loss of income.

Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni has ordered all parties to appear for a scheduling conference at 3 p.m. Aug. 21 at the U.S. Courthouse in Trenton.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - June 19, 2018

TRENTON - It is June. That must mean our state lawmakers are yelling at each other over the proposed state budget, which must be adopted by the end of the month or government shuts down. Some media is refraining from coverage of the daily blow-by-blow, as the typical resident just assumes taxes will go up, no matter what. But, here is the latest. Gov. Phil Murphy has his proposed ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 18, 2018

DOWN THE SHORE - If you see all those mega-mansions on the beach, and admit to being just a wee bit jealous, here's something to quietly smile about: All of those glorious homes will likely be underwater.  NJ Spotlight reports rising sea levels make the New Jersey coast particularly vulnerable, with the Garden State ranking second to Florida with the biggest chronic risk ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 15, 2018

JERSEY CITY - Should topless women be allowed in the city?  That's the big issue consuming the City Council these days, as members continue to debate 1980s-era obscenity laws. There was supposed to be a vote at the council meeting on Wednesday, but it didn't happen. Before there is a vote, it appears the goal is to wrangle support of all nine members of the City Council. The nagging ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 14, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD - The typical sports fan in New Jersey has until 2026 to get excited about professional soccer. That's because the Meadowlands could be the epicenter of the soccer world, a contender to host the World Cup. It could be  an amazing coup for New Jersey, although expect worldwide marketers to try to convince everyone that the big game would be played in "New ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 13, 2018

ATLANTIC CITY - When the Hard Rock Café and Casino opens June 28, a strip club will also open on the property. But this isn't your typical, dark titty bar. No, it is 36,000 square feet of space, about the size of a typical Marshalls. So, figure the place is wall-to-wall strippers, each jiggling for money. That could equal about 300 jiggles per minute on a ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 12, 2018

STATEWIDE - Perhaps it is time for the state to upgrade to Windows 95, as the second big computer crash in a week spelled disaster for the state's computer systems. The biggest hit came to the state's Motor Vehicle agencies, jamming efforts to renew driver's licenses, or for people to get titles or register vehicles. This mess somehow made the lines at the MVC even longer, the ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, June 19, 6:30 PM

Mt Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, New Brunswick

Juneteenth - a Day of Remembrance

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, June 21, 8:00 PM

New Brunswick

Sing-a-Long Grease: 40th Anniversary

Rutgers-led “Tick Blitz” finds exotic Longhorned Ticks statewide

June 5, 2018

New Brunswick, N.J. - Researchers at  University–New Brunswick’s Rutgers Center for Vector Biology have found exotic longhorned ticks in four New Jersey counties – and confirmed that these northeast Asian ticks have been present in the Garden State since at least 2013.

The new detection of these ticks in Mercer County was made through the first-ever statewide ...

Rutgers football stadium has a new name

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Many still call it Rutgers Stadium.

But for seven years, the university's football stadium has been known as High Point Solutions Stadium, thanks to a $600,000 annual agreement with a Sparta-based company. But, as the company has shifted its marketing, so has the stadium's name.

So, now, Rutgers is officially home to " Stadium" for the 2018 ...

Composer lyrisicist Sondheim at Rutgers, tells would-be writers ‘it’s hard work’

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Acclaimed Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim says his work is less about talent and more about the labor and drudgery of “hard work.”

“It’s not about waiting for inspiration. It’s not about talent,” Sondheim said Friday while speaking before an audience at Rutgers University’s Nicholas Music Center.

“You ...

Couple netted $8M from fake Uggs, designer bags, prosecutor says

June 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Plainsboro couple could face charges of of selling counterfeit designer shoes and handbags, netting $8 million and sending $3 million to people in China, authorities said today.

Yan Shi, 36, and her husband, Weiping Liu, 40, were arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree money laundering and second-degree conspiracy to violate the New Jersey Trademark ...


Hearing Loss Common in School-Aged Children

May 30, 2018

With close to 15% of U.S. children ages 6–19 experiencing hearing loss, New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NJSHA) notes that May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month is the ideal time for parents to learn more about the sometimes-subtle signs of hearing loss, ways it can affect school-aged children, and where to find help.

“Some children are born ...

Promise Culinary School Slates Open Houses June 21 and 22 In New Brunswick with Tours, Tastings, Prizes

June 15, 2018

Promise Culinary School will host open houses for the community and prospective students on Thursday, June 21, from noon to 3 p.m. and 5  to 7:30 p.m., and on Friday, June 22, from noon to 4 p.m. at 211 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick. The events are free and open to the public.

The events will include kitchen tours, demonstrations, tastings, raffles and prizes. Tours and activities ...

Ensure Safe Sleep While Traveling with Baby

June 6, 2018

As we approach the summer, there will be plenty of expected travel for families, from visiting grandma at the beach to heading out on a long, well-deserved vacation. 

When staying overnight at a friend’s or family’s place, it is important to maintain the same sleep practices as you do at home. Your baby should be sleeping in a safe, modern crib that meets the latest ...