Raritan Township, NJ — Taxpayers of Raritan Township have been forced to shell out $200,000 in a settlement after dashcam video showed a police officer unnecessarily attack and arrest a father for trying to protect his daughter from police harassment.
The alleged victim, Dennis Shuman filed a federal lawsuit alleging excessive force after he tried to help his daughter during a traffic stop. The entire incident was captured on officer David Carson's dashcam and shows exactly how unnecessary the attack and subsequent beating was.
According to a site dedicated to tracking settlements paid by New Jersey government agencies, NJ Civil Settlements, in his lawsuit, Dennis Shuman claimed that on August 5, 2012, after he came to the scene of his daugther Alexa's traffic stop, Officer David Carson "threw him with great force against the hood of his patrol car" when Shuman tried to call the police chief about Raritan Police allegedly harassing and intimidating Alexa. He said that Carson then "threw him to the ground and continued to beat and attack him" while other officers joined in or failed to intervene.
For months, according to Shuman, police had been gangstalking his daughter, following her repeatedly while harassing and intimidating her.
Shuman noted in the lawsuit that officers Carson and Aaron Roth would "make U-turns and follow Alexa Shuman without stopping her and that on six occasions the officers passed the driveway of Alexa Shuman's home with flashing lights and sirens activated after which they were deactivated."
According to Shuman, the officers would constantly pull over his daughter for petty "offenses" like making a right turn "too quickly," "touching the white line," and "turning without the appropriate signal." All of these stops were documented, according to the lawsuit.
That night, Alexa was once again targeted by the same officer for the alleged crime of not properly using her turn signal. After being pulled over by this same officer multiple times in the months prior, fearing for her safety, Alexa called her father for help.
Although the entire stop was captured on dashcam footage, police fought its release for two years. Courier News had to file an Open Public Records Act request and finally, after protesting the release of the video—saying it would have a "chilling effect" on internal police investigations—it was released.
In the video, Dennis is calm and merely wanting to know why his daughter is being constantly stalked by the officer. When the officer has enough, he tells Dennis to return to his car and the father complies after several requests from the officer.
However, as Dennis walks back to the car, he tells the officer, "you are harassing my daughter." This was enough to set the cop off and instead allowing the protective father to continue walking back to his car, the officer attacks him. He does not tell him to put his hands behind his back to arrest him. Instead, the officer immediately resorts to violence.
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As the video shows, Carson puts his arm across Shuman's neck, twice sends him onto the hood of the police car, then takes him to the ground, where Shuman's head smashes into the concrete curb.
Although the pair falls out of the view of the camera, you can hear Shuman tell the officer that he cannot breathe—repeatedly.
During the chaos, the officer is heard yelling, "Stop resisting arrest! Stop resisting arrest!" as Shuman replies "I'm not resisting you," and "you are hurting me."
As the officer attacked her father, Alexa got out of the car and watched in horror. However, according to the video, Carson told her to "get back in the car, or you're next." Moments later, Roth and Sergeant Scott Lessig arrived at the scene and continued the assault.
"Please get off my back," he says, amid sobs. "I can't breathe!"
"Nobody is getting off your back," the officer responds.
"If you keep moving, you're going to get sprayed and then you're not going to be able to breathe, you got it?" a third officer shouts.
According to Shuman, who was now bleeding from the head, Lessig applied the handcuffs too tightly and refused to loosen them, causing injury. He also said that his encounter with police caused several tears in the left retina, a chipped fracture of the left elbow and nerve damage to his left hand and arm.
For complying with orders and walking back to his car only to be attacked, Shuman was charged with interfering with a traffic stop. In spite of the unnecessary attack caught on video, an internal investigation cleared all the officers of any wrongdoing.