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Father of Deceased NJ Man Files Wrongful Death Suit Against Police

In 2008, a New Jersey man was injured during an arrest by New Jersey state troopers. He died a week later. Now, the man's father has filed a lawsuit against several New Jersey departments and individuals alleging that law enforcement officers caused his son's wrongful death and seeking damages to compensate for the death and for the alleged violation of his civil rights. However, following a criminal investigation, all officers involved with the 2008 arrest have been declared not responsible for the man's death, so the father may have a difficult road ahead as he pursues the lawsuit.

The incident occurred on July 15, 2008, when state troopers found Kenwin Garcia walking along the shoulder of New Jersey's Route 287. After learning that Garcia had an outstanding warrant from Newark, they arrested him, stating that the interstate was off limits to pedestrians. This is when the arrest began to go wrong. Garcia allegedly resisted, kicking out the window of a state trooper's vehicle. After an officer used pepper spray to subdue the 25-year-old, he walked to a different officer's cruiser and drove his head through the vehicle's rear window. He was taken to Morristown Memorial Hospital, where he died one week later.

The lawsuit was filed by the deceased's father, Kelvin Garcia, and names as defendants the state of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Police, Troopers David Jenkins and Victor Pereira, Hanover Township and Police Department, and various Hanover police officers. According to the claims made by the suit, while in police custody Garcia was "subjected to excessive force without justification, which caused him to suffer severe injury ultimately resulting in his death."

According to a defense attorney for the named troopers, the officers were investigated and ultimately exonerated, and both have since returned to their jobs. Therefore, the attorney says, it is "highly unlikely" that a jury will find either trooper liable for Garcia's death.

Source: The Star-Ledger, "Newark father claims son's death was caused by police brutality", Ben Horowitz, 23 November 2010

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