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Raritan Twp. Paid $200K to Settle 'Excessive Force' Lawsuit

Credits: TAPinto Flemington file photo

RARITAN TWP., NJ – The township has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a lawsuit filed in federal court against its police.

The suit was filed by Dennis Shuman against the township Police Department and Patrol Officers D. S. Carson and Aaron Roth; Lt. Nicholas Buck; Sgt. Scott Lessig; and Police Chief Glenn Tabasko. It alleges assault and battery; negligence; emotional distress; abuse of process and authority; and civil conspiracy.

Shuman is a former township resident who now lives in Florida. The suit claims that he was “aiding his daughter” who was stopped by Carson on South Main Street in 2012. His daughter had called him because of a "history of harassment and intimidation" of her by police, the suit states.

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Shuman did not follow the officer's instructions to return to his car and was then “grabbed and assaulted” by Carson, according to the suit. The officer threw Shuman “with great force against the hood of his patrol car” after Shuman told him he wanted to speak with the police chief, the suit claims. Carson then threw him to the ground "to beat and attack him, with the assistance of other defendant officers, who failed to intervene or stop the attack,” according to the suit.

The suit alleges that recordings obtained by Shuman prove the claims and that Buck and Tabasko “failed to see to it that a proper Internal Affairs investigation was conducted.” Instead, a “sham and a farce with a conclusion of unsubstantiated charges” was the result, despite the recording that supported Shuman’s claims, the suit states.

Shuman claims he suffered “severe and permanent injuries” as a result of the “unlawful force.” The left side of his head struck the curb "with full force,” causing an open, bleeding wound, the suit claims.

Police took Shuman to the Hunterdon Medical Center emergency department. When he arrived, Shuman was “bleeding from the head, disoriented, handcuffed and embarrassed.”

Shuman was charged by police with obstruction of the administration of law and pled guilty to the charge in Municipal Court.

The suit also claims Shuman's daughter, Alexa Shuman, was stopped for various offenses including making a “too quick right turn” from the Liberty Village parking lot. In that instance, one of her companions was arrested on a charge of drug possession.

On other occasions, township police passed her home "with flashing lights and sirens activated after which they were extinguished," the suit charges.

Carson stopped her on the date of the altercation for “allegedly turning without the appropriate turn signal.” She called 911 after Carson attacked her father, the suit states.

Shuman’s lasting injuries include “several tears to his left retina, chipped fracture of the left elbow and nerve damage to the left hand and arm,” according to court records.

Shuman was represented by attorney Shelley L. Stangler of Springfield. The agreement to settle was made on May 3 last year.

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