Three years later, State Police admit to using unreasonable force on N.J. man’s disabled son
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — On an early May morning in 2009, after the State Police had searched through the night trying to find two burglary suspects in Warren County, they stopped a car James Bayliss, then 21, was riding in and asked him to step outside so he could be searched.
What happened next was captured by a dashboard video camera inside a State Police patrol car. The recording, which never before has been made public, was recently obtained by The Star-Ledger.
It shows Bayliss standing against the car as Staff Sgt. Richard Wambold Jr. frisks him. A few seconds later, after what appears to be a slight movement, the video shows Wambold throw Bayliss to the ground, kneel and punch him several times in the face.
An eyewitness in a nearby home said in a sworn deposition that she watched from her window as two troopers, later identified as Wambold and Trooper Keith Juckett, then dragged a limp, handcuffed Bayliss toward a parked patrol car and rammed his head against a tire.
She said the troopers’ actions “disgusted” her.
What’s more, Bayliss is not an average young man. A car accident in 2005 left him with a permanent mental disability, and his friend driving the car that morning, Timothy Snyder, told the State Police troopers on the scene about his condition before he was beaten.
On Friday (three years later), after being told The Star-Ledger was planning to publish this story and make the video public on nj.com, the State Police announced for the first time that two troopers involved in the incident used unreasonable force.
Two sources with knowledge of the case confirmed those troopers were Wambold and Juckett. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss personnel matters.
The announcement came three years and two weeks after the incident, and after nearly two dozen attempts by Bayliss and his family to get an answer.
“Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa has made it clear that excessive use of force, whether it involves a state trooper or any other law enforcement officer, will not be tolerated and will be met with strong and appropriate disciplinary action,” a spokesman for Chiesa, Paul Loriquet, said in a statement. “This case clearly involved a breach of the Attorney General’s policy regarding use of force.”
Reached at his home Friday, Wambold, a 19-year veteran trooper, declined to comment because of a State Police policy prohibiting troopers from speaking with the media. Juckett, a seven-year trooper, could not be reached for comment.
Told of the development by The Star-Ledger, Bayliss’ father, John, was thrilled.
“You don’t know how happy I am,” he said. “Finally a step toward closure for our family.”
But he is still angry the investigation has taken so long.