Irvington settles with young man following claims of police brutality

File Photo
Jason McDougall, right, wearing his Columbia High School graduation robes, stands alongside attorney Robert Tarver in 2017 to announce a lawsuit against Maplewood Township.

MAPLEWOOD / IRVINGTON, NJ — According to an order of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Jason McDougall has reached an amicable settlement with the township of Irvington over the July 5, 2016, incident following Maplewood’s Independence Day fireworks event, in which Maplewood police used excessive force on rowdy teenagers. Irvington police had been called to the scene to assist Maplewood police.

Maplewood police reports and recordings show that former Maplewood Police Chief Robert Cimino had ordered his officers to push the rowdy teenagers into Irvington; though many of the teenagers did in fact live in Maplewood, it was implied they were being pushed into Irvington because they were black. Following extreme public and political backlash, the Maplewood Township Committee called upon Cimino to resign from the department.

Videotape from that night shows that McDougall had been body slammed, pepper sprayed and kicked in the head by officers. Maplewood Township previously settled with McDougall.

“We are pleased for this outcome for Mr. McDougall, a young person from our community,” said Walter Fields, chairman of the Black Parents Workshop, a group in South Orange and Maplewood that promotes the welfare of black students in the school district and towns at large. “No amount of money or apologies can compensate for the indignities Jason suffered on that night, in a town he called ‘home.’”