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.