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Teenager sues over arrest for calling 911 with non-emergency

February 27, 1997

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) _ A teen-ager who was arrested for dialing 911 when cold, hungry and lost in southern New Jersey has filed a $10 million civil rights lawsuit.

Rashon Jackson, a black 19-year-old from Camden, accuses police in New Hanover Township, a rural, mostly white community 15 miles southeast of Trenton, of false arrest and malicious prosecution.

The teen-ager said he had walked two miles looking for a bus stop on Jan. 13 when he called police for directions. Instead of getting help, he was arrested and handcuffed, charged with calling 911 with a non-emergency.

Township officials dropped the charges earlier this month after reviewing an audiotape of his call and learning that Wrightstown _ where Jackson actually made his call _ has no listing for non-emergency police calls.

``Rashon’s actions were proper and this whole thing came about because of the color of his skin,″ said his lawyer, Joseph Marrone. ``There was no reason for an arrest.″

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, contends that the responding officer, rather than helping Jackson, asked if he was armed or had any drugs. Jackson said he had gone to Wrightstown to finalize his enlistment in the Army Reserve.

Jackson, who wants the arrest expunged from his record, was willing to accept a public apology from the township and a donation to a scholarship fund for Camden students, Marrone said.

Jackson filed suit when the township failed to respond, Marrone said. He entered the Army Reserve earlier this week.

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