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High School AD Sues Local Police Department for $10M

Michael Gaio

As a general rule, nothing good comes from disputes in the stands at sporting events. Take this story from Rahway High School in New Jersey as the latest example:

On Dec. 28, 2014 Rahway athletic director Thomas Lewis was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pushing a police officer in the chest during a dispute with a spectator at a high school basketball game.

The officer was not injured, but Rahway was arrested, taken to police headquarters and charged with assaulting the officer. Those charges have since been dropped by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.

Now, Lewis is out to clear his name and pocket some cash in the process.

As reports:

Lewis is notifying the city, the Rahway Police Department, the police chief and several officers that he plans to file suit against them for violation of his federal and state rights against false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and defamation.

He is seeking $10 million in damages.

A notice of tort claim filed by Lewis's attorney, Kevin H. Marino in Chatham, indicates Lewis "has suffered severe and permanent damages, including mental anguish, emotional distress, and personal and professional embarrassment, in the amount of $10 million."

The notice of tort claim was received Wednesday, according to the Rahway City Clerk's office.

According to his notice of tort claim, Lewis was “"falsely arrested, handcuffed, taken into police custody, transported to police headquarters, fingerprinted, photographed, booked and charged with the crime of aggravated assault on respondent Justyna Halat, a police officer, an indictable offense, which was subsequently referred to the Union County Prosecutor for disposition."

He says that media coverage of his arrest has hurt his reputation.

Rahway’s Board of Education President Peter Kowal maintained all along that Lewis would be vindicated. However, had he been convicted, Lewis would have been permanently disqualified from employment or service as a board member in any school or educational facility supervised by the state education department.

RELATED: Managing Bad Parental Behavior at High School Games

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