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Shawn Beverly

Summary of Camden Misconduct
On September 11, 2017, several police officers in Camden, New Jersey, arrested 30-year-old Shawn Beverly on drug-possession charges.

According to an incident report filed by Officer Antonio Figueroa, he and other officers were surveilling an area near Fourth Street and Ferry Avenue when they saw Beverly make “hand-to-hand transactions” with two women, exchanging unknown items for cash.

The report said that the officers approached the scene and arrested the two women. When they tried to handcuff Beverly, he ran away and could be seen throwing away “unknown items” prior to his arrest, the report said. Figueroa said he later retrieved a small baggie containing white powder. The report also said they found nearly $200 in cash on Beverly.

The substance was later analyzed and found to contain a controlled substance.

Beverly was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school, possession with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public park, and resisting arrest.

Beverly pled guilty to the charges on April 28, 2008. Available court records don’t say the length of his sentence, but Beverly would later say that he feared going to trial and being convicted based on the false testimony of the officers. He said the officers planted drugs on him.

On March 19, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice began bringing indictments against five Camden officers, charging them with a wide range of crimes and civil-rights violations, including planting evidence, falsification of reports, perjury and theft. The indictments followed an investigation by the FBI into the department after the Camden County Office of the Public Defender asked the Camden police department’s Internal Affairs unit to examine complaints about officer misconduct more vigorously. In later litigation, plaintiffs alleged that the officers’ actions went undetected because of a breakdown in internal affairs, which was understaffed and used antiquated systems.

Three of the officers – Kevin Parry, Jason Stetser, and their supervisor, Dan Morris – pled guilty. The other two – Figueroa and Robert Bayard – went to trial. Figueroa was convicted; Bayard was acquitted.

Even before the first indictment against the officers, the Camden County Prosecutor had begun filing motions to vacate convictions and dismiss charges against defendants whose convictions were tainted by the apparent misconduct. Rather than waiting for individuals to come forward, the prosecutor’s office audited cases and then dismissed those that relied on the testimony or reports of the officers. As word of the dismissals spread, other potential victims of the officers’ misconduct came forward. Ultimately, judges threw out convictions and granted dismissals for more than 50 defendants.

A judge vacated Beverly’s conviction and dismissed his charge on June 29, 2010. Beverly was released from prison that day. Following the indictments, defendants began filing lawsuits against the city and the officers for violations of their civil rights. The lead lawsuit was filed on July 29, 2010 by the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Joel Barnes. It was eventually joined with lawsuits filed in state and federal court by Beverly and 86 other persons, including several who were never convicted and had their charges dismissed after the misconduct by the officers was brought to light.

The lawsuits were settled on January 10, 2013, with the defendants sharing $3.5 million. Separately, 16 defendants also received compensation totaling $649,000 from the State of New Jersey for their wrongful convictions. Beverly received $57,500 in state compensation.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 8/4/2022
Last Updated: 8/4/2022
State:New Jersey
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:Misdemeanor
Reported Crime Date:2007
Sentence:2 years and 9 months
Age at the date of reported crime:30
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No