Last October, a Hudson County grand jury decided that there was not enough evidence to hand down an indictment against Casey for his part in the incident outside the River Street nightclub on May 14, 2000, when Hoboken police officer Patrick Fitzsimmons was beaten severely and repeatedly kicked in the head and face.
An acquaintance of Casey's, former high school football teammate Desmond Miller, was indicted on third degree aggravated assault charges. Miller is waiting to stand trial on the charges.
At the time of the Casey's arrest, Hoboken police chief Carmen LaBruno charged that the beating of Fitzsimmons was racially motivated because Fitzsimmons, who is white, was with an African-American woman outside of the club.
According to the lawsuit, the charge of being involved in a racially motivated crime triggered the slew of hate mail and death threats that Casey has apparently received.
In the civil lawsuit filed last week in state Superior Court in Jersey City, Casey is seeking unspecified damages because of the harm caused to him by allegedly being falsely accused of the crime. Named in the lawsuit as defendants are LaBruno, Public Safety Director George Crimmins, the city of Hoboken, the Hoboken Police Department, Hoboken Police Officer Joseph Taglieri, Captain Anthony Falco and Jersey City Police Officer Jeffrey Vigna.
The suit states that LaBruno made "false and malicious statements that damaged the reputation," of Casey, who just finished his senior season at Penn State University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in education last weekend.
The suit, filed in Casey's behalf by his attorney, Dennis McAlevy of Union City, also states that the actions of the police department "left him open to public scorn and ridicule." The incident also caused undue stress, which allegedly hurt Casey's performance on the field as the starting quarterback for the Nittany Lions last fall, according to the suit.
In the complaint, it is stated that not only did Casey receive threatening phone calls and e-mails, but his mother, Barbara, also received hate mail as well.
"It was brutal," McAlevy said. "And it was exacerbated by the people in the police department, especially LaBruno. LaBruno and his minions had no idea what they did to this kid. When you run wild and make untrue racial comments, it's going to come back to bite you. This is the only way for the kid to receive justice against the people who tried to ruin the kid's career. They have to be held responsible."
Casey once had a promising football career and was thought to be destined to play in the National Football League. But his play suffered this year, much like the fortunes of Penn State, which had a 5-7 season, the worst in more than 30 years.
Casey was not drafted by any team in last month's NFL draft. He did work out three weeks ago with the New York Jets and impressed coaches and scouts there, but the Jets decided not to offer Casey a contract. More than likely, Casey will receive an invitation to attend training camp with another team in July, according to Casey's agent, Tony Agnone.
LaBruno seems to think that McAlevy's motivation for this civil suit is based on the uncertainty of Casey's professional career.
"He [McAlevy] told high-ranking officials in Hoboken that as long as Rashard Casey makes the NFL, then he would not go forward with the suit," LaBruno said. "He made those statements. The lawsuit makes absolutely no sense to me, unless it's someone who is looking for a pay day."
"I'm actually looking forward to public hearing of the facts in this case," LaBruno said. "Let's present the facts in court of law and see what happens. I don't think vindication in a civil suit can ever nullify what happened to the police officer."
According to LaBruno, Fitzsimmons has yet to recover from the eye injuries he suffered during the altercation and he may have to retire from the police force because of the injuries.
"It looks like he's going to lose his job," LaBruno said.
Fitzsimmons has filed his own civil suit against Casey, Miller and Syracuse defensive back Keeon Walker, who was at the scene at the time of the fight, but was never charged with criminal wrongdoing. In fact, it has been reported that Walker actually tried to stop the incident.
Vigna, the Jersey City officer named in Casey's lawsuit, was apparently a witness to the incident. Vigna is being charged with making false statements to the police. According to the complaint, "Vigna was not paying attention to the incident, because he was urinating in the street at the time and his judgment was impaired by the consumption of alcohol."
"The complaint speaks for itself," McAlevy said. "I've represented a lot of police officers over the years, but I never gave it a thought not to file a lawsuit in this case. They did damage to this kid's reputation and now they have to pay for it."