Central Jersey town pays $100K over police brutality lawsuit
SOUTH BOUND BROOK — A police brutality lawsuit will cost this Somerset County borough $100,000 after officials agreed to settle the case with a man who claimed police attacked him.
Francisco Villaneuva claimed in his 2013 lawsuit that officers verbally and physically abused him in 2011 after he came to the aid of his son, who was pulled over in front of his home.
Villaneuva claimed he told Sgt. Edward McGovern and Patrolman Douglas LaGrua he had recently had surgery on his shoulder as they wrestled him to the ground to handcuff him. The officers said Villaneuva was screaming and cursing at them and amped up the situation. Villaneuva was charged with aggravated assault, obstructing justice, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The assault charge was later reduced to simple assault.
The charges were heard in Municipal Court, where Judge William Kelleher found Villaneuva not guilty of most charges but said Villaneuva made "many poor choices" during the incident that warranted the disorderly conduct charge, court records show.
Villanueva’s lawsuit had sought an unspecified amount of damages for eight counts including civil rights violations, excessive force, false arrest and imprisonment and inadequate training. The lawsuit also named then-Police Chief William King as a defendant.
In settling the lawsuit this month, the borough did not admit any wrongdoing. The settlement amount will be paid by the borough's insurance carrier, records show.