A Tom’s River man filed a lawsuit seeking $900,000, and alleging sexual assault and battery against a trooper who pulled him over and searched his crotch for weed in 2017.
State Troopers Joseph Drew and Andrew Whitmore, and other unidentified members of the New Jersey State Police are named as defendants in the suit filed by 22-year-old Jack Levine for the initial tailgating stop that led to an up close and personal search.
A video of the search was released to John Paff, an open public records watchdog, via a records request, and seen in news outlets around the world.
According to the suit, the trooper had on latex gloves when he opened Levine’s pants “and put his hand down his pants and went from his tailbone, down the crack of his buttocks to the front near his genitalia, then put his hand in his front and groped his genitalia and moved his private parts around.”
The trooper also allegedly told Levine during the encounter, “If you think this is the worst I”m going to do, you have another thing coming,” according to the suit.
Due to violations of the New Jersey Civil Rights Act during this stop, the suit says Levine was assaulted, battered and sexually violated.
Those violations should cost the state troopers and state of New Jersey $900,000 according to Levine’s attorney, Arthur Lang of Lakewood.
The complaint states that Troopers Drew and Whitmore are jointly responsible for $700,000 in damages to Levine and the State of New Jersey is responsible for $200,000 in damages.
Public humiliation and embarrassment were also claims in the suit because the trooper searched Levine in clear view of ongoing traffic.
When the department’s body cam and dash cam video was released by police in April to “tens or hundreds of millions of people as far as New Zealand,” the suit claims this was a violation of Levine’s privacy due to it being an ongoing investigation at the time.
Drew performing a body cavity search also violates an Attorney General guideline that states body cavity searches are to be performed by a licensed medical professional with consent, according to the suit.
Levine was driving through Southampton Township in Burlington County last March, on his way to work, when he was stopped by Drew because the trooper said Levine was trailing the vehicle in front of him too closely.
The trooper claimed he smelled marijuana, according to the court documents, then he took Levine and a passenger out of the vehicle, handcuffed them, and placed them both in the back of a police cruiser.
After the search of the men and the car, Drew wrote the driver a ticket for tailgating. The citation, however, was dismissed in municipal court, according to an attorney who represented the driver in that court, John Sanders.
Sanders filed a notice of claim under the Tort Claims Act, but it was after the 90-day statute of limitations for .
The Attorney General’s Office said Friday they were aware of the lawsuit, but declined to comment further.
A State Police spokesman also confirmed an internal investigation into the incident is ongoing.
According to state records, both Drew and Whitmore are currently employed by State Police making approximately $57,800 a year.