Lawsuit: Constable was ‘deprived of his liberty’ for wrongful gun arrest by Jersey City police

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An Essex County constable alleges in a lawsuit that he was “falsely arrested” and “deprived of his liberty” for being detained for possession of a handgun by the Jersey City Police Department, despite having a legal permit to carry.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

According to the suit, filed in Hudson County Superior Court on December 31st, 2020, Zumar Muhammad was stopped by a handful of Jersey City police officers outside his parked vehicle on the evening of September 9th, 2018.

When asked if he had a gun, he told police that he had a weapon in the back seat of his car, which was locked, and also in a zippered bag. He then accessed his carry permit, which was in a backpack in the front seat, the complaint says.

He was still arrested and processed at the precinct at 207 Seventh St., where Police Officer Kevin Wendokowski, the arresting officer, allegedly insisted he was transporting a weapon illegally since he was only allowed to transport his weapon from home to work without any stops in between.

His criminal complaint also allegedly said that his weapon his unsecured, along with ammunition, that was “easily accessible and ready to be loaded.”

“Plaintiff was falsely arrested, searched and deprived of his liberty, he was falsely charged, he was falsely accused, fingerprinted, and mugshotted,” the suit alleges, also claiming that it appears to be common practice for the JCPD to target constables from outside Hudson County.

The court filing also contends that the JCPD Internal Affairs Unit and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, who are also named in the suit along with the state Attorney General’s Office, received a notice of claim to do an investigation back on September 13th, 2018.

The 10-count suit alleges that the incident caused severe emotional distress, showed disregard for civil rights, involved an illegal stop, search, and seizure, a false arrest and charges, as well as malicious prosecution.

According to the suit, the arrest also caused a loss of at least $41,600 loss of “armed income” and caused Muhammad being denied the opportunity to become a police officer.

The HCPO and state AG’s office did not return requests seeking comment, while Jersey City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said they had not yet been served, but will “take all allegations seriously” once the complaint has been received.

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