Town paying $275K to custodian who says cops handcuffed, then beat him
TEANECK — A Bergen County township has agreed to pay a local church custodian $275,000 to settle a lawsuit in which the man claims police officers beat him while he was handcuffed during an incident in 2010.
The lawsuit was filed by attorney Paul Rizzo of Warren on behalf of Donald Farrar, a Teaneck resident who was working as a custodian at St. Paul's Lutheran Church on May 25, 2010 when the incident occurred.
The settlement was first publicly reported by the NJ Civil Settlements blog maintained by transparency activist John Paff. As is typical with settlements, the township does not admit any wrongdoing in settling the matter.
In the lawsuit, Farrar claims he was cleaning the lounge area of the church at about 1 a.m. when he heard noises coming from the parking lot. When he went outside, he saw Teaneck Police Officer Spence Osaigbovo getting out of his patrol car, he says in the lawsuit.
As he was attempting to explain to the officer that everything was fine and he was working the night shift, the lawsuit claims, Osaigbovo "physically assaulted" Farrar.
"Officer Osaigbovo refused to listen to or acknowledge plaintiff as he continued to forcibly and unlawfully assault plaintiff," the lawsuit states.
According to Farrar's claim, the officer continued to assault him, striking him across the face and on the side of his head with a flashlight, causing the custodian "to hit the back of his head upon the floor and momentarily lose consciousness and sustain personal injuries to his mouth and teeth."
The lawsuit further claims that another officer — Craig Luebeck — arrived and "repeatedly kicked ... and assaulted" the custodian while he was on the ground. Farrar said in court documents that the assault continued after he was handcuffed and taken to the patrol car, and officers refused to make any attempts to verify that he was an employee of the church.
Farrar alleged that none of the officers advised him "that he was under arrest, why he was being taken into custody or what crimes he was alleged to have violated."
The custodian was taken to police headquarters and placed in a holding cell, but later transported to a local hospital due to dizziness he said was a result of the assault, according to the lawsuit.
Teaneck Township Mananger William Broughton did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the settlement.
Teaneck Police Chief Robert Carney, who was sworn in approximately four years after the alleged incident occurred, was out of the office and unavailable for comment on Monday.
According to Bergen Dispatch, Osaigbovo is currently a detective with the Morris County Prosecutor's Office. State payroll records show he makes $95,520.
Luebeck remains employed with Teaneck, where he makes $106,740.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.