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Father of Slain Waretown Man Sues Ocean Township, Officers for $5 Million

Complaint filed in superior court claims officers and dispatchers denied Todd Wolford immediate medical care

The father of a man in March has filed a $5 million civil suit against Ocean Township and members of the township’s police department, claiming officers used excessive force and were not properly trained by their supervisors.

Todd A. Wolford, then 34, was fatally shot outside his Waretown home March 3 by Ocean Township officer Matthew Quinn, one of two officers police said were responding to a call from a concerned friend who was worried about Wolford. Quinn is the son of Lacey Township Mayor Gary Quinn.

Toms River attorney Daniel J. Carluccio filed the complaint Oct. 5 in District Court in Toms River on behalf of the slain man’s father, Henry R. Wolford. Carluccio's firm had previously filed a tort claim alleging wrongdoing in May, a procedure that cleared the way for the civil suit filed this month.

In the complaint, lawyers name two unidentified dispatchers, Ptl. Matthew Quinn, his supervisor Cpl. Adam Mogul, Chief Gerhard Frenz and Ocean Township as defendants, saying officers acted recklessly and negligently and denied Wolford immediate medical treatment.

According to the complaint, two dispatchers within the police department received a call from a friend of Wolford’s on the night of Wolford’s death. Edward Kmieciak was concerned about Wolford, and asked officers to go check on him.

Police failed to confirm Kmieciak’s call was “a valid distress call,” says the complaint, which alleges Kmieciak was drunk and had just been in an argument with Wolford over the phone.

Quinn, Mogul and another officer, Jeremy Samuel, ultimately arrived at Wolford’s Maple Street house, the complaint says, where Wolford had fallen asleep on the couch watching a DVD.

The officers then began walking around the property, the complaint alleges, causing Wolford’s German shepherd to start barking and startle her owner awake. Lawyers say Wolford, unsure of what was going on, then took a legally registered and unloaded Glock handgun and went to his door.

The complaint says Mogul looked through Wolford’s window and told the other officers Wolford had a gun, and retreated from the porch. When Wolford stepped outside, it says, he was shot and killed by Quinn, who was standing in the shadows beyond Wolford’s porch lights.

According to the complaint, Wolford “was shot and killed despite the fact he had committed no crime or offense and was wholly within his rights to protect himself and his home from unknown dangers. The reckless and negligent actions of Defendants resulted in (Wolford’s) death. The Defendants knew, or should have known, that they were hidden from (Wolford’s) view in the darkness.”

Lawyers claim the officers failed to file timely Use of Deadly Force reports, saying Mogul didn’t make a report until the following afternoon, and Quinn did not file one until more than a week had passed. They also say the department failed to comply with an Open Public Records request for internal affairs reports related to the incident and police policy documents.

Ocean Township Police Department officials had no comment on the complaint.

Bob Wise October 21, 2011 at 04:20 AM
Mr. "BeyondReality", my name is Bob, but you can call me Mr. Wise. Your knowledge about me is about as accurate as your knowledge of the law. Why you are allowed to attack possible victims of a crime, while not using your real name is a direct reflection on the Patch and its editor Graelyn Brashear. That is the issue.
Jeff Scott October 21, 2011 at 04:29 AM
BeyondReality....thanks, i read another patch article where the facts are a little bit different than here. I thought what you said about "the truth coming out in Court" was very comical. Not making fun of your statement, but finding irony in it. Lawyers and truth? LOL Maybe evidence will surface to actually find out what happened, but who knows? In my experiences with Courts from Municipal to State Supreme Court and all in between throughout NJ I have witnessed way too much corruption and have little faith in our Judiciary. As well dealing with many Municipal Police Depts. they haven't fared too well in my opinion either. This is from actually dealings and interactions with all of them, not a biased opinion based on rumor or conjecture. Not condemning the shooter but basing an opinion on what I "read" so far and continue to learn more in different articles. What the victim in a drunken half asleep stupor did while stupid I think at this time it could have been handled differently. I am open minded though, so this opinion may be premature.
Silver dollar October 21, 2011 at 04:29 AM
Jeff Scott If you look to the right of the write up you will see the heading SEE MORE ON PATCH there you will find a articles written on march 4th an16th you may find them interesting
Jeff Scott October 21, 2011 at 04:48 AM
Thanks "Over taxed" No I have even more concerns and really don't know if they're warranted or not. If the police were dispatched on a “wellness” or “welfare call” over suicide concerns, didn't they ever consider suicide by cop and use a different approach? Secondly, they did nothing as cited by an eye witness to attempt to save this guy and waited for EMS instead? Why didn't all 3 cops shoot and only one did instead? Obviously all three weren't threatened but one was? I am no expert, but so far it seems like a scared cop pulled the trigger prematurely. It's easy to sit in my living room Monday night quaterbacking the situation, but if I were there, I would have been one of the two other cops who didn't fire at that time. JMO at this time
Jeff Scott October 21, 2011 at 04:49 AM
*Now
Silver dollar October 21, 2011 at 05:04 AM
Just read the Asbury park press on the web . Suit up tp to 10 million WOW! Who got it right ? See how things get twisted .Wait for the facts . Not hear say.
Jeff Scott October 21, 2011 at 05:42 AM
I see what you mean. I just read it and $5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. I thought that 5 mil was low for a starting point. I also must have misread that he was drunk, as the APP story states that he was dumping the friendship over the 911 callers drinking issues. Who writes this stuff? (Rhetorical)
Mac October 21, 2011 at 11:12 AM
We weren't there, so everything here is speculation. My understanding is there are eyewitnesses to this event, both police and civilians. Opinions are opinions and facts are facts. I'm a strong believer in our justice system and the courts are the place where justice is best served. I think we all need a lot more information on the events that occurred that night and the testimony in court will provide such. Until then, speculation will rule and facts will become distorted in favor of your opinions. In the end, the courts will have the final say. It’s not a perfect system but it does have an impressive record.
Mattie October 21, 2011 at 12:16 PM
YOU ALL need to reread the article CAREFULLY. The guy who was shot on his porch was NOT reported DRUNK. It was the guy who called 911 to go check on his friend (the shooting victim) who WAS DRUNK. Read it again. The guy who called 911 (from his own home) was drunk, not the guy in his house who was shot. Stop calling the victim a "drunk" , "mentally unstable" or a "lunatic". Where are you getting this stuff?? The man was awakened by his dog barking, and hearing people around his house IN THE DARK. He grabbed an UNLOADED gun, and opened his front door.... Obviously he only meant to scare away any intruders- hardly a "lunatic" action. Eye witnesses say the man was shot while his "arms were at his side" even though yes, he had a gun in one hand. (Read the other patch stories about this). The cops also failed to call for EMTs in a reasonable amount of time, and NO ONE ATTEMPTED CPR or emergency medical assistance in any way. That's why the family is suing, and has a right to sue! There are several levels of "stupid" and "failure" to this situation.
sally October 21, 2011 at 12:57 PM
There is always more to the story than the news will report, and the news will not be impartial. Unfortunatly the PD cannot defend themselves in the media so we will only hear one side. I bet their side has details that MIGHT make you people change your opinion. That goes with any story.
Zaphod October 21, 2011 at 02:22 PM
Yes..lets award this "poor" man 10 million dollars of taxpayers money for undoubtedly he will donate a substantial portion to the proper retraining of the officers to correctly deal with future situations like this ... give me a break.
Brian Holt October 21, 2011 at 02:38 PM
As a law abiding citizen, owning a legally registered fire arm you should know the rules about what you can and cannot do with that firearm, especially in this state. First, the Castle Doctrine does not apply in Nj, which allows you to use deadly force if someone breaks into your home...you have to do everything necessary to get out of the situation before you can even think about firing your weapon for self-protection including retreating from your own home. So walking outside with a gun in a defensive manner technically is illegal. Second, the weapon was unloaded...I am pretty sure that a police officer walking up to that house was not aware of the condition of his weapon. The gentlemen walked outside in a defensive manner to confront someone, with a weapon; one would have to assume it is loaded and ready to fire.
walt tupycia October 21, 2011 at 08:50 PM
so if someone shot my family member on my front lawn i cannot go out to my lawn and shoot the killer?I have to wait until he comes in my house to try to kill me?
walt tupycia October 21, 2011 at 08:51 PM
going on my lawn would be considered defense because i want to protect my self?
walt tupycia October 21, 2011 at 08:52 PM
no jury in the world would convict me.
BeyondReality October 22, 2011 at 05:27 AM
According to this article, he walked out of the house and than pointed the gun at the cop. http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/press/ocean/family-suing-police-ocean-township-for-million-in-relative-s/article_4991706c-fb92-11e0-acbc-001cc4c002e0.html
Daniel Nee (Editor) October 22, 2011 at 06:23 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_doctrine ;)
Rick October 22, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Here's some good news for you. The 10 mill won't be taxpayer dollars. That's why towns and police departments have insurance.
Rick October 22, 2011 at 02:36 PM
This is a civil suit. There would be no conviction involved.
Bob Wise October 22, 2011 at 02:53 PM
Oh you read it in a newspaper article. Then it must be true. No need for a trial. Now I know why you said "now these money grubbing family members see an opportunity to make a few bucks." The nerve of these "money grubbing family members", you read something in an article.
Zaphod October 22, 2011 at 03:40 PM
Wonderful, and who pays the ever escalating premium on that every time we hand money over to lawsuit happy opportunistic people who want money for nothing? Frankly I don't care who's right or wrong, but this guy does not deserve a dime.
Rick October 22, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Four years on the force, a rookie?
Rick October 22, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Actually, "this poor man" won't get a penny. He is dead. In most lawsuits involving a wrongful death the plaintive does not sue for a specified amount. The amount is determined by the jury if it goes to trial or by agreement if there is a pretrial settlement. Compensatory damages are usually determined by what the potential lifetime earnings would be if the person had not died and how much he would have contributed to the support of the plaintive. The punitive damages are awarded on a much more arbitrary basis.
BeyondReality October 22, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Not saying it is set in stone. Like I said the truth will come out in court (I Hope). The reason I call them money hungry is because where were these people when this guy really needed help? Why werent they there to take his firearms out of his house if they knew his state? We see it time and time again, all of a sudden when someone has an opportunity to benefit all of the family members are up in arms wanting to sue for negligence. 3/4 of the time they should be sued for negligence for not caring about the person until it was to late. Ask anyone who has won the lottery, they are the perfect example. Family members come out of the woodwork with dollar signs in their eyes. If their intentions are right (And they do win) than all of that $ should be put right into a charity. Otherwise, they are profiting from someone elses death and tragedy.
BeyondReality October 22, 2011 at 08:03 PM
Also the paper just doesnt print whatever they want. Although I will admit there has been a slew of incidents where their information was incorrect. They still had to have gotten that from some sort of official source. And at this point it is all anyone has to go on besides the previous articles.
Sjfireguy October 23, 2011 at 11:41 AM
Looks like mistakes were made on both sides. The police are most at fault for hiding in the shadows and not announcing their presence when they saw the man had a gun inside his home. I'm not a cop and know that to be a standard proceedure. Also, if they knew the man was armed and was coming outside he could have been tazed. Being awakened by a barking dog while in an alcohol induced stupor makes an individual an incoherent mess! These police officers should have backed off to their cars, announced themselves and tried to diffuse the situation through verbal communications. Looks like a clear case of rookie nerves!
JOHNNY Done it October 23, 2011 at 05:23 PM
I agree. The fact is no one tried to force there way in his car or house he have had to see the police car and them he could have hid the gun..there was no threat to him but he pulled his gun..what were you think was going to happen next.
JOHNNY Done it October 23, 2011 at 05:26 PM
By the way depression is a mental health issue.
BeyondReality October 23, 2011 at 09:07 PM
First off tasers are illegal in NJ. No cop carries them. Secondly, I am confused by your post. You say that it was wrong for the cops to be in the shadows and you also said that they should have left the front of the house where there is the most light and return to their vehicles. To retreat from the house, which is what you said they should have done, they would have to be in the shadows. Its one or the other, stay in the light near the house or back up away into a darker area. Also its common knowledge that police are trained not to pull their cars up directly to a house but to park a few doors down and than walk up. They are also trained to observe the situation the best they can before making contact with someone who may be unstable, which is exactly what they were doing when the dog started to bark. So would you have them walk a few houses away back to their cars and loose contact with the subject who than may flee with the gun in hand or go retrieve a bigger gun and set up to wait for the cops to reapproach?
sally October 24, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Cops don't carry Tasers in NJ SJFireguy!!!

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