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Antwyne Rolax

Summary of Camden Misconduct
On December 27, 2007, police officers in Camden, New Jersey, arrested 23-year-old Antwyne Rolax and charged him with three counts of possession of marijuana.

The report filed by Officer Kevin Parry and Officer Jason Stetser said that they saw Rolax conduct a drug deal from the porch of a house on Chase Street. The report said that the officers arrested Rolax and found six bags of marijuana in Rolax’s jacket and another 119 bags inside a gas grill. The items were sent to the New Jersey State Police Laboratory, which reported that the substance in the bags was marijuana.

Parry testified at a suppression hearing about the events leading up to the arrest.

Rolax pled guilty to the three charges on November 12, 2008. He was sentenced to prison, although available records don’t indicate the actual sentence he received.

In 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 – Parry, 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 Rolax’s conviction and dismissed his indictment on December 18, 2009. Rolax 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 Rolax 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.

Rolax said in his lawsuit that Stetser and Parry arrested him after a warrantless and illegal search of his house. He said he was not in possession of marijuana, and that the officers planted the drugs on him. In addition, Rolax said that Parry testified falsely at the suppression hearing.

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. Rolax did not receive state compensation.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 8/29/2022
Last Updated: 8/29/2022
State:New Jersey
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2007
Age at the date of reported crime:23
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No