Black Driver Gets $800,000 Settlement

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A black woman who said she was assaulted by a white state trooper during a traffic stop has reached an $800,000 settlement with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

The authority's lawyers approved the settlement Tuesday.

Kindra Wright was arrested in 1998 by Trooper John Ioia, who apparently mistook her for one of the people involved in an argument near a turnpike rest area.

When Wright attempted to return to her car, ignoring Ioia's orders to stop, the trooper handcuffed her, lifted her by the hair and pushed her face first into the ground, according to her lawsuit. Wright said she suffered a fractured jaw, several broken teeth and cuts to her face.

John Hagerty, a state police spokesman, said Ioia was involved in ``several incidents'' that led to disciplinary hearings and a 14-month suspension. He can return to duty in May after undergoing an evaluation and hearing on his fitness for police work, Hagerty said.

The charges filed by the trooper against Wright, including resisting arrest, were dismissed.

``At the height of racial profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike, a member of the state police victimized an African-American female who was guilty of nothing other than being an African-American female on the turnpike,'' said lawyer William Manns Jr., a member of Wright's legal team, which included Johnnie Cochran and Barry Scheck, who represented O.J. Simpson.

Wright, 28 of Newark, said she was glad to settle the matter.

``I've been through enough trials with this,'' she told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Wednesday's editions.

No phone listing could be found for Ioia. A message seeking comment Wednesday from the state troopers union was not immediately returned.

New Jersey agreed to federal monitoring to review allegations of racial profiling in 1999, a year after two troopers on the turnpike fired on a van carrying four unarmed minority men, wounding three. A report Jan. 18 found no incidents of racial profiling over a three-month period.

Earlier statistics showed officers stopped far more blacks and Hispanics than whites, but found more whites carrying drugs and weapons.

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