Bayonne resident Kieran Walsh has filed suit alleging that a 2017 motor vehicle stop forced him to walk home, despite recently having his toes on his left foot amputated, after a traffic stop led to his police officer impounding his car.
By Mike Montemarano/Hudson County View
According to a January 4th, 2018 letter from the Bayonne Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit, the police officer who stopped Walsh, Stephen Salot, “did not follow appropriate policies and procedures.”
The letter, which was sent to Walsh by Lt. Paul Jamalowicz after he filed an internal affairs complaint, said that “appropriate departmental action will be taken,” though the letter did not go into the specifics.
Bayonne police did not respond to requests seeking further comment.
Walsh’s case represents the first time he is seeking punitive and compensatory damages in the wake of the incident.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Hudson County Superior Court on November 27th, 2019, Salot allegedly “knew of, but intentionally ignored, the obvious risk to Plaintiff’s health and safety and the high probability that Plaintiff would suffer increased harm if he had to walk home in the freezing cold on a recently amputated foot.”
The suit alleges Walsh was pulled over on the morning of Nov. 27, 2017, while driving on Avenue C in Bayonne, after he beeped his horn at an unmarked vehicle driven by Salot, “that had been traveling recklessly down Andrew Street and almost collided with plaintiff’s vehicle,” the suit claims.
According to the court document, Salot pulled Walsh over due to the fact that a handicap placard was obstructing his window, and the Bayonne Police Department had his vehicle impounded due to the fact that Walsh’s registration had expired.
“During the police stop, Plaintiff Kieran Walsh advised Defendant Police Officer Stephen Salot that he had recently undergone amputation of the toes on his left foot and was unable to walk home,” the suit reads.
Walsh “called his wife Melba Walsh at the scene and she also advised Defendant Police Officer Stephen Salot of Kieran’s physical disability and inability to safely walk home. Melba Walsh pleaded with Defendant Police Officer Stephen Salot to either stay and wait with Kieran until she could get there from work or to give him a ride home.”
Despite this, Salot refused to remain at the scene of transport Kieran home. Salot “recklessly placed him in a position of great danger,” the suit continues.
Due to the five block walk home in the cold, Walsh’s foot did not heal properly due to being forced to walk five blocks home and resulted in “several serious infections and further amputation.”
The suit goes on to name Police Director Robert Kubert and Police Chief Drew Sisk, who were allegedly working in supervisory capacities on the night of the incident, as well as unidentified persons and entities.
Walsh alleged that the defendants failed to protect him from foreseeable injury and recklessly placed him in great danger, in violation of the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, as well as both the Federal and State Civil Rights Act.
“As a direct result of this state-created danger, Plaintiff Kieran Walsh was caused to suffer significant pain and suffering; substantial, permanent loss of a bodily function, disfigurement and dismemberment including further amputation, and severe emotional distress and mental anguish, as well as other damages alleged herein, all of which was foreseeable.”
In the lawsuit, Kieran and Melba Walsh cite deprivation of rights under state and federal law; actual malice and willful misconduct; negligence; unlawful policy, custom, or practice and the failure to train and supervise; violation of the New Jersey Civil Rights Act; violation of the Federal Civil Rights Act; violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; violation of state law against discrimination; negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress; and a per quod claim.
Additionally, the couple is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, the costs of the suit, and “such other relief as the Court may deem appropriate.”
Citing city policy, Bayonne Corporation Counsel Jay Coffey II declined to comment due to the fact that the litigation is still active.
The New Jersey Superior Court issued a summons for the case on Dec. 17. The Walshs are being represented by Jennifer Harwood Ruhl of The Grossman Law Firm, a law firm with multiple locations that has their main office in Freehold.
Ruhl did immediately return an inquiry seeking comment on Wednesday.
Mike Montemarano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.