Emily Weinman was relaxing on a New Jersey beach eating watermelon with a friend when a pair of cops walked up to them and demanded they take a breathalyzer to prove they had not been drinking.
Weinman and her friend agreed to take the test which indicated they had not been drinking. Weinman, 20, even agreed to blow into the device a second time when the first reading did not satisfy the cops.
And the Wildwood police officers should have just left it at that but they chose to escalate the situation instead, obsessing over a few unopened bottles of Twisted Teas lying against a cooler near Weinman’s beach towel that did not even belong to her.
The alcoholic beverages belonged to her aunt who had gone for a swim, Weinman told the cops. When the cops told her they wanted to speak to her aunt, Weinman told them they were welcome to wait as she should be back from swimming at any moment.
But Weinman also made it clear she had nothing more to say to the cops considering she had already proven she was not intoxicated. After all, they no longer had a reasonable suspicion she was committing a crime.
But the cops took it as a personal insult that she did not want to answer their questions which led to them chasing after her on the beach and shoving her face into the sand while punching her in the face and head.
All because she would not provide her surname.
“What’s your last name?” Wildwood police officer Thomas Cannon demands, according to his body camera video.
“You don’t need my last name,” she responds.
“Ok, that’s it, I’m done with you,” Cannon responds, before asking another cop for his handcuffs to arrest her.
“Get over here!,” Cannon says, chasing after her.
“You’re about to get dropped,” he says before catching up to her and beating her.
The incident took place on May 25, 2018 and was captured on body cameras as well as witness video but that did not stop police from fabricating felonies against her, accusing her of kicking them in the groin and spitting at them – none of which was captured on camera.
There is also a 13-second gap in the body camera video where the audio is inexplicably muted which happens to be the portion where she supposedly disrespected the cops by “not cooperating,” according to their conversation when the audio comes back on.
She was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, throwing bodily fluids in the third degree, resisting arrest in the third degree as well as hindering apprehension in the fourth degree, charges that could have landed her in prison for decades. She was brought before a New Jersey grand jury.
Meanwhile, all three cops, Cannon, Robert Jordan and Kenneth Gallagher were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Clay County District Attorney’s Office.
The Philadelphia resident ended up pleading guilty to one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct in February 2019, a typical contempt of cop charge that cops use when no law was actually broken. She was sentenced to one year probation during which she was no longer allowed in the city of Wildwood.
However, Weinman filed a federal lawsuit against the cops in a Pennsylvania in October 2019, keeping it out of the New Jersey criminal justice which has proven for years to defend bad cops at all costs resulting in a settlement of $325,000 last month.
Former mayor of Wildwood Ernie Troiano, Jr. who was in office when Weinman was arrested called the settlement a “travesty and miscarriage of justice.”
Troiano was part of the initial coverup, painting Weinman as public enemy number one while painting the cops as heroic victims, claiming they were unable to handle such an aggressive woman even though she only weighed 100 pounds and stood at 5-feet.
Troiano also lied to the Associated Press, claiming at the time the body cameras would show Weinman spitting and kicking at the cops. But none of that was visible on the body cam videos when they were eventually released.
According to the Associated Press article from May 2018:
“We’re not dealing with an angel here. She chose to take on the police. The police did their job,” said Troiano, who added he’s a former bouncer and doorman. ”(Women) can be hard to control. They’re kicking. They don’t care.”
Troiano told Philly.com that Weinman “chose to attack the officer, spit on the officer.”
“Look I don’t care who you are and what you are, the worst people (to try to subdue) are women,” he said.
Weinman told the reporter in a Facebook message that she was spitting sand out of her mouth after being knocked to the ground, not spitting at the officers. She’s facing two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and other charges, according to Wildwood police.
The video filmed by another beachgoer Saturday and posted to social media shows two officers trying to subdue Weinman, with one officer hitting her in the head twice with a closed fist. The beachgoer said she woke up to the altercation and began filming. The video does not show what led to it.
Troiano said the officers’ body camera footage will show a different story, including the woman’s spitting at the officers and kicking one in the groin.
The settlement was approved by the Atlantic County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund which represents cities in New Jersey and probably realized a jury would have awarded her a much higher payout after hearing the following details described in the lawsuit of how bad cops are routinely protected in New Jersey.
The Defendants and other higher-ranking Wildwood police personnel agreed that they should fabricate an account of what transpired to justify falsely charging Plaintiff with indictable offenses in part to lend greater justification to the Defendants’ unreasonable use of force. This plan to over-charge Plaintiff would also provide Defendants with leverage against Plaintiff, pressuring Plaintiff to admit guilt to a disorderly persons offense so as to avoid the risk of prison time if she had to defend herself at trial on an indictable offense. The goal was to ensure that Plaintiff pled guilty to some offense, because by securing a guilty plea to any of the charges, Plaintiff’s chances of a successful civil prosecution would be reduced.
Defendants employed the age-old law enforcement doctrine of “hurt a man; charge a man” as a way of protecting themselves and the department from potential criminal and civil liability.
To carry out this conspiracy, Defendant CANNON not only made false statements in his police report and sworn complaint summons, but Defendant GALLAGHER repeated those false statements in sworn testimony before a grand jury to secure trumped-up charges against Plaintiff.
Specifically, Defendant GALLAGHER testified falsely to the following:
• [the defendant] struck Officer Cannon with an open left hand
• [the defendant] “attempted to kick the officers and eventually did, in fact, kick Officer Jordan full force in the testicles, as well as did kick Officer Cannon.
• During the arrest, the defendant was spitting at officers
• While the officers were placing [the defendant] in a police vehicle, she spit at Patrolman Hillman.
Plaintiff was subsequently charged with a litany of additional indictable offenses including two counts of aggravated assault, throwing bodily fluids in the third degree, resisting arrest in the third degree, and hindering apprehension in the fourth degree.
Plaintiff later pled guilty to a single, petty disorderly persons offense for disorderly conduct. The trial court granted her a civil reservation.
On information and belief, the Wildwood police department’s internal affairs function did not/does not comply with New Jersey’s Attorney General Guidelines and uses the internal affairs function to protect officers from misconduct rather than remediate it. In 2013, the New Jersey ACLU conducted a widespread study examining whether New Jersey Internal Affairs Police Departments were following Attorney General Guidelines with respect to Internal Affairs process. The ACLU found that most departments in the stated failed to follow New Jersey Attorney General guidelines when investigating internal affairs civilian complaints.
On information and belief, the department does not initiate internal affairs investigations into excessive force and that when they do the department rarely if sustains them. In fact, in all of Cape May County, a total of only three (3) internal affairs complaints for excessive force were sustained between a four year period of 2014 through 2017.
The City’s reckless disregard and indifference to its use of force problem has resulted in a number of federal civil lawsuits for excessive force, not including this one. See, e.g., Araromi v. Middle Township Police Dept., Wildwood Police Dept., et al., 10 CV 1048; Carey v. City of Wildwood, et al. 12 CV 1298, Lenart v. City of Wildwood, et al., 16 CV 4296, Piccolo v. City of Wildwood, et al., 18 CV 15226. This list does not take into account any lawsuits brought in state court for excessive force or related claims or lawsuits that do not name the municipality as a party.
Additionally, Wildwood police officers are not trained to de-escalate minor conflicts with civilians, but rather are encouraged to arrest civilians simply for showing lack of respect. Wildwood officers are encouraged to assault and arrest civilians for the fictional crime of ‘contempt of cop’ and then justify their conduct with fabricated claims.
After this incident, the Chief of Police and even the Mayor of the City of Wildwood doubled down on their officers’ unreasonable use of force, finding that the officers acted in accordance with their policies.
The de facto policies and practices of the department were the moving force behind the Defendants’ unconstitutional conduct.
Weinman, who is now 22, posted the following description of the incident shortly after her arrest in the summer of 2018.
I asked them don’t they have something better to do as cops than to stop people for underage drinking on the beach, saying to that there’s so much more serious stuff going on… the cop said, “I was gonna let you go but now I’ll write you up” and he asked my name. I did not do anything wrong and anything could’ve been written down on that paper so I wouldn’t give it to him. At that point I was told if I don’t give it to him he’s going to arrest me. I told him I have my 18 month old daughter with me and there’s no need for all of it and that again, I’m not gonna give him my information knowing I didn’t do anything wrong. He told me he’s arresting me and started coming towards me to put handcuffs on me. I cautiously was backing up from him (facing him) and yelled for my daughters father. (he was playing in the ocean with our daughter at the time).. I tripped and fell and the cop tackled me to the ground and smashed my head into the sand. At that point I blacked out and fought any way possible trying to get up and push him off me. Thats when he head locked me me by his arm around my neck, punched on me in my head and then he head locked me again but this time choking me, I was gasping for ear. Yes, i know I should’ve gave him my name.. I was partly wrong in a way but I was scared; Like I said I didn’t do anything wrong and anything could’ve been written on that paper, the whole situation was iffy and I didn’t trust it.. especially being aware of the fact of how grimy law enforcement can be now a days. & honestly, I can say if I took even a sip, then I would’ve gave them my information and called it a day; I’m underage, so I know better. But this whole situation was handled wrongly and blew out of proportion all because these pigs didn’t do their jobs the way they were TRAINED to do so. maybe that’s just how they train them nowadays, who knows with the world we live in today.
Watch the edited video above which includes footage from both the body camera and witness camera. Watch the full body camera video here. Read the lawsuit here.