The New Jersey attorney general’s office will not defend a state trooper accused of beating an intellectually disabled man. Officials say they will not pay for the trooper’s legal costs either.
The case has dragged on for more than three years, but recently picked up steam after the Newark Star-Ledger obtained and released video footage taken by a police car camera which shows New Jersey state troopers beating James Bayliss — and ramming his head into another police car’s front tire.
In this 2009 incident, Bayliss of Hackettstown was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over during a routine traffic stop. He is intellectually disabled from a prior car accident.
Troopers say Bayliss did not follow orders and acted in a threatening fashion.
Bayliss’ family says that if he appeared defiant it is because he has trouble understanding instructions since his accident.
The attorney general’s office says it will not defend Staff Sgt. Richard Wambold Jr. because an internal police investigation found him guilty of using excessive force. A hearing on possible disciplinary action against Wambold is still pending.
Robert Woodruff, an attorney who represents the Bayliss family in a civil lawsuit, says the motive is more sinister. He says a deputy attorney general contacted him several times to get a dollar amount to settle this case — but didn’t like the figure.
“So clearly, it seemed to me, that if it was a number that he could live with, they would maybe entertain negotiations, and if not, they would cut this man loose,” said Woodruff.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office didn’t address that charge, but says Wambold had been told all along he could lose representation if the internal investigation found misconduct on his part. The state will represent the other trooper accused of using excessive force against Bayliss as his role was less prominent.