Lawyer arrested for not answering questions gets settlement
TRENTON, N.J. – A lawyer arrested for not answering questions during a traffic stop for suspected speeding in New Jersey will receive $30,000 under a settlement with the state, court records show.
NJ Advance Media reported Wednesday that the settlement for Rebecca Musarra was reached in July.
Dashcam video of the 2015 arrest shows state troopers telling the Philadelphia lawyer that she has the right to remain silent after they arrested her for not answering their questions.
"I thought it was quite ironic that they had just arrested me and told me I had the right to do the same thing they just arrested me for," she said in an interview.
The video shows the troopers repeatedly asking Musarra if she knows why she is being stopped. When she doesn't respond, a trooper tells her, "OK, you're going to be placed under arrest if you don't answer my questions."
When she told them she didn't have to answer their questions, they told her to get out of the car and handcuffed her.
Musarra said she was detained in a local police station where a trooper told her she was obstructing justice by not responding to the officers. When she informed the trooper that it was not illegal to stay silent, he then apologized for the arrest and called the officer a "rookie," according to the lawsuit.
She was released the same night after a trooper told her he would do her a "favor" and get her car released from an impound lot without her having to pay any fees. The lawsuit also stated that a trooper chipped her driver's-side window when he tapped his flashlight against it during the traffic stop.
The department has not officially admitted wrongdoing, though officials sent Musarra a letter in March 2017 saying that an internal investigation found sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations of false arrest and illegal search.
A spokesman said troopers were given additional training after the arrest.