With Highway Shooting Case Settled, ACLU of NJ Calls Upon State to Make Amends in Racial Profiling

Affiliate: ACLU of New Jersey
January 15, 2002 12:00 am

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NEWARK, NJ–Despite settling the highway shooting case that brought racial profiling to the nation’s attention — and an admission by state troopers that they had been directed to profile — New Jersey officials have yet to make restitution to all victims of the state-sponsored practice, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey said today.

“This case ignited the racial profiling debate in New Jersey and across the nation,” said Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Jersey. “Yet even though everyone in the case acknowledged that officers were directed to engage in racial profiling, New Jersey officials have yet to end this wrongful practice or make amends to persons who were targeted by police solely because of their skin color.”

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 faced charges for falsely reporting the race of stopped minority drivers as white.

As part of the deal, the troopers were allowed to plead guilty to reduced charges and were spared both jail time and probation. In approving the plea bargain, Judge Charles A. Delehey of State Superior Court in Mercer County told the troopers, “You are victims not only of your own actions, but of the system, which employed you,” acknowledging the troopers’ statements that they were carrying out policies they had been taught.

The plea agreement comes on the heels of last week’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 last week’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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