February 2, 2001 (TRENTON, N.J.) -- The state of New Jersey has agreed to pay $13 million to settle a suit over a racially charged state police shooting, lawyers announced today.
Also today, state Attorney General John Farmer announced that charges would be dismissed against more than 100 people who claimed they were victims of racial profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike. Farmer said that all the defendants had been found in possession of guns or drugs but that they all appear to have been victims of illegal traffic stops or searches.
Alleged racial profiling by state police was already in the courts at the time of the turnpike shooting in April 1999. But the wounding of two young African-Americans and a Hispanic dramatized the issue.
The young men were traveling by van to a basketball clinic in North Carolina when they were pulled over by two white state troopers. John Hogan and James Kenna say they fired into the van because it rolled back towards them and they thought the driver, who was not injured, was trying to hit them.
Lawyers for the injured men include Johnnie Cochran, celebrated for his successful defense of O.J. Simpson. They claimed that the troopers stopped the van because the driver and passengers were all members of minority groups.
Hogan and Kenna still face criminal charges in connection with the shooting. A judge dismissed a grand jury indictment against them, but an appeals panel reinstated many of the charges.