The city of Wildwood, N.J., has settled a federal civil lawsuit filed by a woman who was arrested by two cops in a violent encounter that was captured on video and drew national attention to the Jersey Shore town in 2018, NJ Advance Media has learned.
In court documents filed earlier this month, the city’s attorney wrote that Wildwood had agreed to a $325,000 settlement with Emily Weinman after she filed a lawsuit against the city alleging two seasonal police officers had “brutally and senselessly assaulted” her during a dispute over an unopened alcoholic beverage on the beach.
The lawsuit alleged that the cops used excessive force and fabricated evidence against Weinman, of Philadelphia, who was 20 years old at the time and visiting the beach for Memorial Day weekend with her boyfriend, her 18-month-old child and a female friend.
The Atlantic County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund, which represents a number of municipalities in South Jersey, approved the $325,000 settlement, James R. Birchmeier wrote in a Nov. 19 court filing. Birchmeier did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron said in an email Monday he “only just found out about the settlement and was not involved in the negotiations.”
“This was done by the Atlantic County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund which represents the City in City related lawsuits,” Byron said. “I have no further comment.”
Weinman’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, declined to comment.
Former Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano, Jr., who was mayor when incident occurred and has been outspoken in supporting the two officers, told NJ Advance Media Monday that the settlement is a “travesty and a miscarriage of justice.”
“It’s unbelievable,” he said.
The settlement puts an end to the saga that put the popular Jersey Shore town under scrutiny after the video went viral shortly after the incident occurred on May 26, 2018.
The video showed police officers confronting Weinman and administering a breathalyzer test over an unopened alcoholic beverage on the beach. Weinman tells the officer she has not been drinking and refuses to give them her full name, according to the video.
As she walks away from the two class II officers, which are seasonal positions that Jersey Shore towns regularly hire for the busy summer months, Weinman tells them not to touch her, according to the video.
“Alright, you are about to get dropped,” officer Thomas Cannon says, according to the video, as he moves toward the woman. The lawsuit alleges that Cannon then “violently” took her to the ground and began striking her as he pushed Weinman’s head into the ground.
According to the lawsuit, both officers allegedly physically assaulted Weinman by twisting her arms, pulling her hair and choking her by firmly pressing a forearm against her throat that hindered her breathing. The officers repeatedly tell Weinman to “stop resisting!”
“They’re choking me!” Weinman can be heard screaming. “I cannot breathe.”
The lawsuit alleges that the officers exaggerated how much Weinman resisted in order to “to justify their unreasonable and excessive use of force.”
At the time, the officers claimed that Weinman had struck and kicked the officers, and described her as appearing to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The lawsuit denied those allegations made by police.
Weinman was charged with a number of crimes, including two counts of aggravated assault, throwing bodily fluids in the third degree, resisting arrest in the third degree, disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice.
She pleaded guilty to a single disorderly conduct charge in 2019 and was banned from Wildwood for one year.
Shortly after the incident, the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office announced that the officers would not face criminal charges for their conduct.
The two officers involved, Cannon and Robert Jordan, were dismissed from the lawsuit earlier this month as settlement discussions were being finalized, according to court documents. They could not be immediately reached for comment.
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