A New Jersey man has filed a lawsuit against the Monmouth County Jail alleging that law enforcement officers beat him, knocked out his front teeth and forced him to wear pink overalls while calling him homophobic slurs.
Ocean Township’s Kavan Costello, 18, says in court records that he was arrested on February 17, 2020 after police found Xanax and a gun in a car he was a passenger in.
Costello was taken to jail where officers grabbed his throat and began punching and kicking him in a tooth knocking out according to a lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Monmouth County on Aug. 5.
The lawsuit states that Costello, who weighs 5 feet, 9 inches tall, and 145 pounds, was asked three times to bend over naked and cough. “Afraid that the prison guards would sexually assault him, Costello yelled ‘help’,” the lawsuit said.
Correctional officers then took Costello to another location in the prison, where they began slapping him in the head, face and body – which resulted in a second front tooth falling out, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit alleges that Costello was denied adequate medical or dental treatment after the beating and that he was locked in a freezer for three days without water.
In addition to the Monmouth County Jail, the lawsuit names acting warden Donald Sutton, Undersheriff Ted Freeman, five law enforcement officers, a doctor, dentist and several unidentified individuals.
Sutton was not immediately available for comment. Freeman, who could be reached by phone in prison on Tuesday, said he was unable to comment on any pending litigation.
The lawsuit alleges that prison guards attempted to get Costello to sign a settlement agreement or be banned for 60 days. He refused and was released from the facility at 8 p.m. on February 21, 2020, the lawsuit said.
Upon his release, Costello sent the prison a “hold-up letter regarding any video footage that may have captured the attack”. However, no video was released for Costello or his lawyers, the lawsuit said.
The day after his release, Costello sought treatment for his injuries at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch. There, the doctors found that he had suffered a concussion, jaw and shoulder pain, and a torn teeth, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit alleges excessive violence, gross negligence, cruel and unusual penalties, and a failure to protect Costello in violation of state law. The lawsuit also alleges that officers engaged in illegal practices, lacked adequate training, and supervisors did not properly supervise employees.
In the lawsuit, unspecified compensation and punitive damages as well as an interim injunction are requested to stop the alleged unlawful treatment of other inmates in the future.
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Anthony G. Attrino can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.