Bias suit by former police officer settled by Wall Township

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WALL TOWNSHIP — The township has agreed to a $500,000 settlement in a bias lawsuit filed by a former police officer who said he was repeatedly subjected to racial slurs and disparaging treatment by white officers and supervisors. 

Of that sum, the township is to pay $100,000 and its insurance carrier, the Monmouth Joint Insurance Fund, is to pay $400,000. The township committee approved a resolution agreeing to the settlement on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

The former officer, Suresh Madhavan, an Indian-American, was on the police force from 2003 until 2016.

The agreement to settle “was the best economic decision for the township” and taxpayers, Mayor George K. Newberry said, because it provides for insurance to pay for 80 percent of the cost, and a jury trial would have had the potential for resulting in a larger payout. He said he doesn’t believe the department is guilty of the allegations made in the lawsuit.

In his lawsuit against the department and a former police chief, Mr. Madhavan said that he was the only minority officer when he joined the force in 2003, and that an unnamed sergeant referred to black people by the “N-word” and as “spooks,” and “monkeys.” 

Mr. Madhavan alleged that he was intentionally humiliated and passed over for training and promotions in favor of less qualified white officers, and that the harassment culminated when he was fired in 2016 after a “trumped-up” investigation.

“The township believes it acted properly in all facets of [Mr. Madhavan’s] employment and termination,” Township Administrator Jeffry L. Bertrand said Friday.

Police Chief Kenneth Brown Jr., who was not chief at the time of the incidents alleged in the lawsuit, said: “We do not tolerate discrimination or bias of any kind” in the department, and that officers “are held to the highest standard and beyond. If any kind of incident did occur, the department would take immediate action in accordance with the guidelines of the state Attorney General’s Office, he said.

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