Police & Fire

Maplewood Teen Sues Police Claiming Post-Fireworks Mistreatment, Racial Slurs

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - A Maplewood teen claiming he was wrongly pepper sprayed, physically abused and discriminated against by police following the 2016 fireworks has filed a federal lawsuit against the Township and former Police Chief Robert Cimino seeking damages for actions that allegedly included punching, kicking and the use of racial slurs.

Jason McDougall, now 18, was 16 years old the night of July 5, 2016, when he was among many African-American teens leaving Memorial Park after the festivities and ended up in scuffles with police.

The lawsuit filed September 8, by McDougall’s mother, Cynthia, on his behalf, alleges the teen was unfairly targeted by up to eight police officers and wrongly abused.

Sign Up for E-News

The suit states, in part:

At some point … Cimino determined that he was going to direct his officers to send black children who were leaving the fireworks display in mass, out of the town of Maplewood and into neighboring Irvington. He told his subordinate officers to ‘send them east’ toward Irvington … It was the clear intent of the Maplewood Police Department to herd the youths out of Maplewood and into Irvington without regard for their right to return to their homes and without regard for their safety. At no time did officers attempt to determine if any of the children lived in Maplewood nor did they make provisions for those who did.

The lawsuit specifies that McDougall was walking along Elmwood Avenue at one point seeking to go to his home on Troy Court, but police would not let him. It claims police “told him to get on the sidewalk and walk up Elmwood Avenue” and when he “tried to explain to the police officer that he lived” in another direction, one officer allegedly said, “get your nigger ass on the sidewalk.” 

The lawsuit alleges that McDougall then went toward a commotion at Elmwood and Boyden avenues, but did not get involved.

However, the complaint claims that he was attacked by police anyway, stating:

Suddenly and without warning, another police officer ran toward (McDougall) and struck him forcefully in the chest causing him to fall backward. As he fell to the ground, he was immediately surrounded by at least eight police officers. He was kicked repeatedly by the police officers and sprayed with a chemical capsicum type spray directly in his eyes, nose, mouth and ears.

The lawsuit claims police then used other slurs and profanity, allegedly stating: ”what now bitch?” and “get the fuck out of here.” McDougall also alleges he was denied water to help sooth his eyes and mouth from the pepper spray.

As he sought to walk further up the street, the lawsuit claims, police allegedly knocked McDougall down again, slammed his face into the ground and punched him once more.

The lawsuit names as defendants Cimino, former captain Joshua Cummis and three individual police officers. It seeks unspecified damages and legal fees.

Township officials declined to comment on the suit Wednesday, noting they had not yet been served. But a clerk at the Federal District Court in Newark confirmed the 30-page suit had been filed September 8.

Robert Tarver, attorney for the McDougalls, had initially announced plans for the suit in August.

He said this week that the video and audio of that night’s events, which were released several months ago, show clear evidence of wrongdoing against his client and others.

“The unique aspect of this case is that the wrongdoing is there indisputably for everyone to see and hear,” Tarver said Wednesday by phone. “The language and behavior are based upon race.”

The McDougall lawsuit is the latest Maplewood trouble related to the July 5, 2016 police misbehavior, which has already led to the ouster of Cimino, a lawsuit from Cummis claiming wrongful termination, and a report from an independent consultant stating police acted improperly and more training for such incidents is needed.

Hillard Heintze, the Chicago firm hired as part of the Township’s response to demands by many in the community that Cimino be dismissed in the wake of improper police abuse, released its report last week that found 11 “key findings” of police response problems that night. 

Some of the strongest objections from residents involved the police “herding” many youngsters toward the Irvington city line, including many who live in Maplewood.

Video and audio of those incidents, which followed that night’s fireworks display, were made public in late July 2017 after months of demands for them to be released.

The same week, the police also announced that six officers had been disciplined for their actions that night, including one who was suspended for 20 days. It is unclear if any of them were among those cited in McDougall’s lawsuit since their identities have not been revealed by police.

On Aug. 1, 2017, the Township Committee (TC) called for Cimino to resign, held a unanimous vote of no confidence in him, and placed him and former police captain Joshua Cummis on paid leave.

The same night the TC appointed Acting Capt. Jimmy DeVaul as the new acting police chief, along with Lieutenant Albert Sally as a new acting captain.

Cummis has since retired and the Township this week approved an agreement with Cimino for him to remain on paid leave until the end of 2017 and then receive payments of nearly $280,000 during the next year.

Cummis, meanwhile, has filed his own lawsuit seeking damages for alleged wrongful termination.

Township officials announced last month that they would begin a national search for a new police chief.

Related articles

Maplewood Township Committee Passes Resolution Finalizing Settlement with Police Chief

Consultant’s Report Finds “Inappropriate Tactics” During Post-Fireworks Police Response; Chief Cited For “Counterproductive Effort”

Suspended Maplewood Police Captain’s Lawsuit Claims No Due Process

New Acting Chief and Acting Captain of Maplewood Police Department

Amidst Protests, Maplewood Officials Call for Immediate Resignation of Police Chief

6 Maplewood Police Officers Disciplined for July 5, 2016 Incidents

Maplewood Police Release Reports from July 5, 2016: Unruly Crowds, Pepper Spray Use, Attacks on Police

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

Village Coffee Sign Tweaks Starbucks, Clarus Twitter Trails, and School Shuffles

When Starbucks coffee opened in the new Clarus development complex at the former Maplewod Village post office site, some wondered what effect it might have on Village Coffee, the longtime java spot just down the street.

Village Coffee owner Ketan Patel sees no big impact as of yet and a visit to the shop finds the same customer traffic as usual.

One addition, however, is a sign posted at ...

Marshall School Recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month

October 18, 2017

It is Hispanic Heritage Month and at Marshall Elementary School Mr. Martínez’s 2nd grade class honored the histories, cultures and contributions of famous individuals whose ancestors or they themselves came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Hispanic Heritage Month is observed in the United States from September 15th through October 15th. These ...

Know Your Neighbor

For Desi, Cam, and Lily 

I am Puerto Rican. 

But, I have light skin and two blonde boys. I grew up in Upstate New York and now live in New Jersey, and have a very fortunate life. I am not the Puerto Rican portrait you might imagine.

During a college interview I was asked about my heritage and experiences with adversity.  I said then and can say to this day, ...

South Orange - Maplewood Board of Education Election: Felicia George and Avery Julien Candidate Statement

October 19, 2017

Putting Students First!

South Orange-Maplewood School Board candidates Felicia George (CHS ’12) and Avery Julien (CHS ’17) have unveiled their campaign platform focused on Putting Students First! The two first-time candidates and recent Columbia High School graduates are trading upon their on-the-ground experience as students in the school district ...

Supporting Diverse Learners: Statement from School Board Candidate Donna Smith

Supporting Diverse Learners

Our School District faces many challenges in serving diverse learners appropriately, but the Board has a duty to make sure it happens.

I believe there are three key ways that the Board can use its oversight to ensure that the needs of our diverse learners are met:

1. Implement Rigorous Monitoring of Special Education and Gifted & Talented Policies and ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Four Bicycle Thefts from Train Stations

October 19, 2017

South Orange Police Blotter as of October 19

Theft of Bicycle - An Orange resident reported that sometime between 3:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. on Wednesday, October 11, actor(s) unknown stole his black and yellow Mongoose brand bicycle that was locked and secured to a bike rack at the South Orange Train Station.

Theft of Bicycle - A South Orange resident reported that ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - 7 Thefts from Autos and 2 Vehicle Thefts Reported

October 10 - Shoplifting; At approximately 3:30 p.m. Wawa reported that a male left the building with several items without paying. Responding officers were able to locate the male a short distance away. The male, 51 year old Gregory Singleton of Union was arrested for shoplifting as well as an outstanding warrant.

October 10 - Malicious Damage; Sometime during the ...

SOMA Two Towns for All Ages to Host 'Repair Cafe' on Saturday, Oct. 21

October 19, 2017

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - There are over 1,000 Repair Cafés worldwide and the first one in New Jersey in coming to SOMA this Saturday, October 21, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Morrow Memorial Church (600 Ridgewood Road, Maplewood).

The Repair Cafe was suggested by South Orange resident Lorraine Graves, who brought the concept to Cathy Rowe, the coordinator of SOMA: Two Towns for ...

'Strut Your Mutt' Parade in South Mountain Dog Park on Saturday, Oct. 21

MAPLEWOOD, NJ -  This Saturday, October 21, is Strut Your Mutt, the annual Essex County Canine Halloween Costume Parade and Contest.

Two parades are planned, one at 2 p.m. in the afternoon (with registration at 1:15 p.m.) at the Essex County South Mountain Dog Park on Crest Drive in Maplewood/Millburn, and one at 10 a.m. in the morning (with registration at 9:15 a.m.) at ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_24dfebf016d155f25e1b_ryan_roa_postcard_front_lo_res

Fri, October 20, 10:30 AM

Seton Hall University, South Orange

Ryan Roa - It's Complicated

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_ed7ba11d37a501d31002_slides-880x400-billycollins

Fri, October 20, 8:00 PM

South Orange Performing Arts Center, South Orange

Billy Collins at SOPAC

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, October 21, 9:00 AM

Lafayette School Parking Lot, Chatham Twp.

Paper Shred

Giving Back Green Home & Garden

Carousel_image_0c975a7a3f3ac99ac8ff_screen_shot_2017-10-11_at_1.52.35_pm

Sat, October 21, 9:00 AM

Scenic Lake, West Orange

A Home For All Run/Walk

Giving Back Health & Wellness Sports

Donna Smith for BOE - one of hardest working members of our Board

October 16, 2017

I’m pleased to endorse Donna Smith for a second term of the Board of Education.

Donna has been involved with our public schools since 1998, first as a PTA mom and as a BOE member since 2015. Throughout her years of service, Donna has been an advocate for all children to have options and choices over their academic careers, in terms of subject matter and finding the course environment ...

Donna Smith - a fierce, consistent, commitment to improving the educational experience of all of our students.

Donna Smith stands out in the crowded field of BOE candidates. She has a long and continuous history of service to SOMA schools. She knows our past and has a vision for our future. Donna is level-headed, reasonable, practical, thoughtful, and hard-working. Most importantly, Donna has demonstrated a fierce, consistent, commitment to improving the educational experience of all of our ...

Family Health

Second Opinion on Breast Cancer Program Offers Peace of Mind

A breast cancer diagnosis can change a person’s life. And during such devastating news, the sheer amount of information regarding treatment and follow-up care can quickly become overwhelming. However, patients are not alone in this fight. Atlantic Health System’s Breast Cancer Second Opinion Program at Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, Overlook Medical Center, is helping provide peace of ...

Christie, Booker, and Baraka Show Strong Support for Newark to be Next Amazon HQ

October 17, 2017

NEWARK, NJ - A bipartisan trinity of New Jersey politico firepower assembled in downtown Newark to shoot the first salvo needed to score a major economic triumph for New Jersey's largest city: the construction in Newark of the new corporate headquarters for Amazon, the world's largest online retailer.  

All three of the prime politicians in place inside Rutgers Business ...

Former President Obama to Visit Newark to Campaign for Murphy

NEWARK, NJ - Former U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to roll into downtown Newark on Thursday to campaign for the Democratic New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy as the battle to run New Jersey heats up in the race's final weeks. 

Obama's appearance in New Jersey's largest city less than three weeks before the Nov. 7 election on behalf of ...

Overlook First in NJ to Offer Carotid Artery Stroke Prevention Procedure

October 20, 2017

SUMMIT, NJ - Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center is the first hospital in New Jersey to offer an innovative new treatment for patients at risk for stroke due to blockages in the neck arteries, a condition known as carotid artery disease.

The minimally invasive procedure, called TransCarotid Artery Revascularization or TCAR, utilizes a new FDA-approved ...

Union Man Convicted on All Charges in 2013 Murder, Dismemberment of Cranford Girlfriend

UNION, NJ – A Union man was found guilty on all charges in the case of the murder and dismemberment of his girlfriend nearly four years ago, acting Union County Prosecutor Thomas K. Isenhour announced Wednesday.

The jury convicted Matthew Ballister III, 47, of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree desecration of human remains, third-degree hindering apprehension, and several ...

Mahopac’s Frank Lloyd Wright House Back on the Market

October 12, 2017

MAHOPAC, NY — If you have about $15 million to spare, you can own the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home, which comes with its own island, on Lake Mahopac.

The iconic home, once rumored to have been purchased by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (those rumors were false), is back on the market with a selling price of $14,920,000.

The sale is being handled by high-end real estate brokers ...

Train through Time Rolls on Four Centuries In A Weekend

October 20, 2017

Bring the kids, bring a friend, because once again it’s that time to ride the rails into history.

On October 21 and 22, Union County celebrates Four Centuries In A Weekend, when historic sites and museums across the County open their doors to the public, free of charge.

Many of the sites are within walking distance of the train stations across the County, with some sites offering ...

Partners in Awareness, Access and Action – Susan G. Komen North Jersey and City of Newark to Present Free Women’s Wellness Expo in Newark on October 28

Susan G. Komen North Jersey announced that it has forged an exciting new partnership with the City of Newark to present a free Women’s Wellness Expo. The inaugural Expo, to be held on Saturday, October 28, 10:00am-4:00pm at the JFK Recreation Center, will draw on resources from public, corporate and medical communities to raise awareness for breast health and healthy lifestyles, provide ...

Annual Maplewood Halloween Parade on Tuesday, October 31

Ghosts, goblins and witches will be roaming Maplewood Village along Maplewood Avenue at the Annual Halloween Costume Contest sponsored by the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce and Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group on Tuesday, October 31, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The festivities include trick or treating, music and dancing and prizes for best costumes.  

This year we are featuring ...