The Lakewood Police Department is now facing multiple lawsuits from people accusing it of causing damage to them and acting out with excessive force.
In one lawsuit, filed over a crash whose victim says has caused her “serious and permanent damages” and left her unable to work, the police department is being sued for damages, interest, and legal fees.
On January 13th, 2022, Ujjwala Jain, a resident of Freehold, was stopped in traffic on Route 88 in Brick when she was struck violently from behind by a Lakewood Police Department vehicle being driven by Officer Matthew T. McKee. The force of the crash flung Jain’s vehicle into the other lane, causing it to be struck by a third vehicle.
In a separate federal lawsuit, a Lakewood resident is suing the police department, alleging that he was “deprived of his civil rights when officers pursued, detained, surrounded and fought with him in the street on the night of December 18th, 2019.”
The plaintiff, Courtney Griffin, was walking home from his job on New Hampshire Avenue when police received a call of a black man stalking a Jewish man and brandishing a knife. Responding officers drove up to Griffin, surrounding and blocking him in.
One officer said he had a knife on him, which he denied, explaining that he had just left work and only had a box cutter on him. One officer then lunged at Griffin and pulled the box cutter from his pocket while more officers leapt at him. Griffin, expecting a beating, crouched, and was then tackled to the ground by Officer Alex Pedre before being taken into custody.
The lawsuit alleges that “no officer attempted to defuse the escalating situation” and that he was “targeted by multiple officers after a farcical 911 call related to the stalking of a young Jewish man who, not surprisingly, was nowhere to be seen when he was stopped.”
While originally filed in New Jersey Superior Court, the case has become a federal one due to Griffin’s allegations that his constitutional rights were violated.
Separately, a Lakewood police officer was also charged after assaulting a man while off-duty during a baseball game, in which he allegedly caused extensive injuries to the man’s face.