Day 5: Cal v. City of Newark

Excessive Force, Improper Conduct and Internal Affairs
Settled October 2009

banner_police_citi_200: The Settlement Project: Citizen Edition

In October 2004, Newark Police Officer Arnold Borrero stopped a motorist, Sara Lesende, at the corner of Jefferson and Elm Streets, and became extremely agitated during the course of the stop, ultimately punching Ms. Lesende in the face and assaulting her. Officer Borrero then drew his weapon and pointed it at some bystanders, including Luis Cal, and threatened to shoot them. Both Ms. Lesende and Mr. Cal brought separate suits for the incident.

Mr. Cal's suit (No. ESX-L-8649-06) was filed in October 2006 and besides Officer Borrero, named Lillian Carpenter, Richard Cuccolo, Crystal Burroughs, Albert Cicalese, Anthony Ambrose, Irving Bradley and the officer bearing badge #6916. The complaint alleges that other defendants—Carpenter, Cuccolo, Burroughs, Cicalese, Ambrose, and Bradley—knew or should have known of Officer Borrero's extensive disciplinary history and despite this, allowed him to remain as an officer in the Newark Police Department without disciplining him for this or other incidents. On or about October 21, 2009, Mr. Cal's case settled for $30,000; Ms. Lesende's case remains pending.

What exactly was Officer Borrero's extensive disciplinary history? Federal Judge Debevoise explained it as follows in Ms. Lesende's case (Lesende v. Borrero, Civ. A. No. 06-4967 (D.N.J. May 19, 2010)): "Borrero's disciplinary record lists 45 internal affairs complaints resulting in the imposition of 15 penalties. In three separate matters, three Administrative Law Judges found that Borrero was not credible or made false statements. Borrero's record includes four excessive force allegations (none of which were sustained), a sustained false reporting complaint, and a sustained allegation of assisting an out-of-state bounty hunter's search for a fugitive in New Jersey."

Note: None of Cal's or Lesende's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. While the parties freely agreed to settle Mr. Cal's lawsuit, all that is known for sure is that Newark, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Mr. Cal $30,000, rather than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial—it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened—or what consequences, if any, came to the individuals accused in the suit.

The other claims have also not yet been proven or disproven is a court of law; at this time, they are simply allegations in a pending lawsuit.

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