Clementon pays NJ man $75K settlement in false arrest lawsuit
CLEMENTON - A Pine Hill man who was kept in jail for three weeks for a robbery he didn't commit was awarded a $75,000 settlement by the borough of Clementon last week.
Vaughn Molock filed a lawsuit against the borough and Clementon Police Officer Joseph McDevit following the 2011 incident. The lawsuit claims that Molock was arrested and held in jail for armed robbery, even though the victim of the robbery repeatedly told police that Molock was not the suspect and that they had arrested the wrong man. The Pine Hill man says his civil rights and Fourth Amendment rights were violated.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court on May 20, 2013, claims that the arrest took place on June 22, 2011 when Officer McDevit interviewed the victim of a robbery that took place the same day Molock was released from jail on an unrelated matter.
The suit states that the officer "without any support or factual basis" claimed that the alleged victim had identified Molock as robber. The victim, however, allegedly made it clear to police that Molock was not the suspect, according to court documents.
"The alleged victim of the armed robbery repeatedly advised that the Plaintiff was not the person involved in the crime reported," the lawsuit states.
Molock was arrested and kept incarcerated for three weeks until he was able to retain counsel. Eventually, he was released and the robbery charge was dismissed, according to the lawsuit.
In April, a federal court judge issued a ruling stating that in submitting his request for a warrant to arrest Molock, the officer "recklessly omitted" important information, according to the courrierpostonline.com. This included the fact that the reason Molock came under suspicion was because another Clementon officer, who had encountered him the previous night, believed he matched the description of the robbery suspect, the article states.
The lawsuit further claims that the borough's failure to "adequately train its police employees" led to the warrant and subsequent arrest, which violated Molock's Fourth Amendment right to be "free from unlawful seizures."
The borough and Molock agreed to a $75,000 settlement before the case went to trial. According to NJ Civil Settlements, none of the allegations were proven or disproven in court and sttlement agreements typically state that payment doesn't serve as an admission of wrongdoing.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.
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