Police Office Sued After Traffic Stop Vindicated By Audio Tape

By February 20, 2013Injury Law

Cheers to Judges Parrillo, Sabatino and Mavin of the New Jersey Appellate Division, as well as the trial level judge who dismissed the complaint in the case Alfano v. Patrolman Pierce Schaud. The case involved a plaintiff who claimed that a police officer unlawfully detained him for forty minutes for political reasons when his vehicle was illegally double parked. The officer disputed the plaintiff?s version and claimed that it was a brief stop that simply involved him requesting the plaintiff?s driving credentials, giving him a warning, and letting him go.? All too often the trial level judge will hear such divergent stories and refuse to dismiss the case because the law states that a jury should resolve disputed issues of material fact. In this case, however, both the trial level judge and the Appellate Division found that a real-time audio tape sufficiently eliminated any factual disputes.? The nine minute tape which contemporaneously memorialized the officer?s conversation with police dispatch was considered dispositive on the issue of whether the stop was reasonable.? The court explained, ?When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts…”

This case is significant because it provides support for dismissing cases where the plaintiff attempts to testify around damning physical evidence. It also is a good example of modern technology playing a larger role in the court?s search for the truth.