Imagine this: you and your family are having a party. It’s getting late and, perhaps, a bit rowdy. The neighbors call the police. When the cops arrive, instead of successfully shutting the party down, they turn the place into a crime scene.
One couple, Lawrence Rolnick and Kimberly Sorrentino don’t have to imagine that scenario. They lived it. And, now, they will be getting $1.15 million from the Township of Westfield; the couple recently agreed to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit with the town. The couple said after being denied entry to their home on the night of the party, Westfield police entered the property — without a warrant — and used “excessive force” in an effort to shut the event down. According to the lawsuit, Sorrentino was knocked to the floor and suffered serious injuries that resulted in three surgical procedures.
The husband and wife were also arrested on what turned out to be “baseless charges” that were later dismissed.
Apparently, police lost or destroyed video footage of the arrests. The town has a policy that requires officers to turn on recording equipment whenever they have interactions with citizens.
New Jersey police officers take their jobs to protect the residents of their communities seriously and respond to all reports of possible illegal activity. In this particular case, the police said they thought they had reason to enter the residence and acted on what they believed was credible information. However, according to the settlement, it was determined they violated the civil rights of the individuals at the party.
Don’t allow your civil rights to be violated by overzealous police officers — at home, work or during a motor vehicle stop. You have a right to deny police access to your personal belongings unless they have a warrant. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
If you believe you were the victim of excessive police force or failure to follow policy, contact a criminal lawyer who will protect your rights — when police officers failed to abide by them. Call Lombardi and Lombardi for aggressive legal representation today.