Notorious Atlantic City police officer Sterling Wheaten may finally face some consequences for his alleged use of excessive force on the job. As we told you in November, Wheaten had an incredible 25 excessive force complaints filed against him between September of 2008 and April of 2012. He was cleared by Atlantic City Police Department internal investigations in all 25 of the cases, a fact that Atlantic City attorney Jennifer Bonjean called “statistically not credible.”
In addition to the citizen complaints, Wheaten has also been targeted in at least five lawsuits in the last several years. One of these lawsuits concluded last week, and the jury handed Wheaten a strong serving of (likely overdue) punishment.
Wheaten was ordered to pay victim Michael Troso $250,000 for using excessive force and illegal arrest procedures against him in 2008.
Troso, who at the time was a deputy state attorney general, was arrested by Wheaten in 2008 on the night of his bachelor party. Troso lost his job as the result of the arrest.
“Officer Wheaten was certainly the leader when it came to the vicious attack that was practiced on (Troso),” attorney William Buckman said.
Torso is owed a total of $500,000 from the event. Half of it is to be paid by Wheaten, and the other half is due from Atlantic City for failing to properly train Wheate as a police officer.
“I’m pleased that the jury at least saw the core of the incident for what it was,” Buckman said, “that Sterling Wheaten acted in an extremely violent and inappropriate way on that occasion and that the city is indifferent to how dangerous people like Wheaten are.”
The only downside to the ruling is that Wheaten, now $250,000 in the hole, will likely be looking to work all the overtime shifts he can find. For Atlantic City residents and visitors, that’s a scary thought.