In a year-old lawsuit, former Seaside Heights resident Joseph Alfieri claimed three members of the Seaside Heights Police Department choked, kicked, and sprayed him with tear gas after allegedly entering his house without consent. The incident occurred in April of 2009 after Mr. Alfieri’s girlfriend, who was also arrested earlier that night, told the police that he had assaulted her. Upon the department’s release, Mr. Alfieri’s girlfriend returned to his residence and demanded her car keys. He refused and told her to come back the next day. The three officers, including the one who had arrested his girlfriend, later arrived and entered his home. Alfieri claimed facial lacerations and a wrist injury among the physical abuse he received as well as emotional distress. While the department is not admitting liability, Alfieri received $63,500 in the settlement.
This is only one instance in a growing epidemic within the region. Fifteen individual excessive force lawsuits have been filed against the Seaside Heights Police Department in the past seven years and seven remain unresolved. “A lot of different people are telling the same story over and over again, and that’s not a coincidence,” said Attorney Thomas J. Mallon, who is the legal counsel for the 15 lawsuits.
Seaside Heights wants to have video surveillance installed in patrol cars and at the police station to help deter additional allegations. As someone who has witnessed the Seaside Heights chaos first hand, I believe that increased surveillance footage can only be beneficial, so long as it doesn’t include The Situation.