ACLU of NJ Expresses Concerns Over Reported Plea Bargain in Police Highway Shooting Case
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEWARK, NJ–The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey today expressed concern that the reported plea bargain for state troopers John Hogan and James Kenna may represent another instance in which New Jersey is refusing to hold police officers responsible for excessive use of force.
“”It is clear that the controversy regarding whether this is an appropriate plea bargain or not is aggravated by New Jersey’s history of failing to address police misconduct in a meaningful way,”” said Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Jersey.
Criminal charges were brought against the two troopers after their stop of four minority motorists led the troopers to fire on the van in which the men were driving. In addition to facing criminal charges relating to the shooting, the troopers also face charges for falsely reporting the race of stopped minority drivers as white.
“”This case ignited the racial profiling debate in New Jersey,”” Jacobs said. “”Sadly however, while the state appears to have settled the criminal matter arising from the troopers’ actions, officials have yet to end the practice of racial profiling or make amends to persons who were targeted by police solely because of their skin color.””
The reported plea agreement comes on the heels of yesterday’s decision by United States District Court Judge Joel Pisano to allow four minority drivers to move forward with their claims that the state violated their constitutional rights through the practice of racial profiling and that top state officials, including former Attorney General Peter Verniero and former Superintendents of State Police Clinton Pagano and Carl Williams, acted with deliberate indifference rather than attempting to stop the practice.
In his decision in the case, White, et al. v. Williams, et al., Judge Pisano noted that a 1999 report by the state in which officials admitted to the practice of racial profiling, was prompted by “”the Turnpike Shooting [involving Hogan and Kenna] and Verniero’s ‘realization’ that racial profiling existed in New Jersey.””
An ACLU news release on yesterday’s decision is online at /node/10898
An ACLU news release responding to the state’s 1999 admission of racial profiling is online at http://archive.aclu.org/news/1999/n042299b.html
Visit the ACLU’s “Arrest the Racism” website for more information on the fight against racial profiling, at http://archive.aclu.org/profiling
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