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Frank Shaw

Summary of Camden Misconduct
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On March 27, 2008, police officers in Camden, New Jersey, arrested 50-year-old Frank Shaw and charged him with three counts of drug possession. The officers said they saw Shaw complete a drug transaction and then found cocaine on Shaw during a pat down.

The officers then searched Shaw’s home and claimed they found drugs at his residence.

In June 2008, Shaw pled guilty to a single count of drug possession in Camden County Superior Court and was sentenced on August 11, 2008, to four years in prison.

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 –Antonio 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 Shaw’s conviction and dismissed his indictment on December 18, 2009. For reasons that aren’t clear in the available records, Shaw remained in prison until January 11, 2010.

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 Shaw 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.

In his lawsuit, Shaw said that Parry and Stetser approached him after they said they saw him engage in a drug transaction and then pick up a plastic baggie from inside the hallway of his home. He said one of the officers planted drugs on him during the pat down, and then illegally searched his home, where the officers falsely claimed they found additional drugs.

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. Shaw did not receive state compensation.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 9/19/2022
Last Updated: 9/19/2022
State:New Jersey
County:Camden
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2008
Convicted:2008
Exonerated:2009
Sentence:4 years
Race/Ethnicity:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:50
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No