Leach Estate to Receive $2M from Local Coffers – by Luke Ottinger, Jr.

Though criminal proceedings against any officers that responded to the call for assistance the night MoShowon Leach was killed have long since been closed and the officers cleared of any wrong doing, a civil case was settled on June 18, 2014 in favor of Mr. Leach’s estate that will cost the Borough of Penns Grove and Carneys Point Township a total of $2,000,000.00.

The civil suit was directed at officers of various ranks and involvement in the call as well as ten “John Does”.  Though video and audio recordings of the actual events provide evidence directly contrary to some of what is relayed in the civil suit, key points being that Mr. Leach complied with the officers’ orders and lied face down offering no resistance, the defendants’ lawyers decided to settle without a trial.  Sadly, even with the not previously published evidence that Mr. Leach had cocaine in his possession and, according to one toxicologist’s thoughts on the postmortem toxicology results, had enough PCP in his system that, “He could have been operated on while he was wide awake and felt no pain”, the lawyers decided it was a better decision to walk away than fight the allegations within the civil suit.

While the settlement saves tax dollars on trial costs and the decision to avoid trial means no verdict can be issued, a $2M bill is a hefty tab for these two towns.  Despite the fact that the two officers which first responded and were involved in the struggle that concluded with Mr. Leach’s death have been cleared both by prosecutors and the FBI, which went so far as to say they both acted accordingly and applied their respective training properly, there is zero chance of this giant sum of money going away.

The settlement spells out how the vast majority of the money will be distributed but it doesn’t say where exactly and in what percentages the funds will be coming from.  As the individuals named in the civil suit were all employees of either the Borough of Penns Grove or Carneys Point Township, we can only assume that the burden will be split between the two towns.  Even if the towns have some type of insurance in place for such situations, anyone who has ever filed an insurance claim knows premiums go up and sometimes you even get dropped and have to start a search for new and often more expensive coverage.

Official word from either town has yet to be obtained.  What is known is that be it through direct payout or increased premiums, your tax dollars are paying this settlement.

Though this part may be another story in and of itself, I would hope that the estate of Mr. Leach uses this opportunity to fund anti-drug programs within the community.  Mr. Leach was in a math class with me in 7th grade where our teacher, perhaps one of the best I’ve ever had, was also a college professor.  She would often bring us problems from her college students’ work load to challenge us.  I still remember working through some of those in that class of very gifted students.  Mr. Leach was certainly one of them.  His potential was squandered and his loss of life was tragic; and while it may have been at the hands of law enforcement it wasn’t any more than an accident.  Those officers didn’t want to end Mr. Leach’s life anymore than Mr. Leach knew what he was doing that evening.  I would hope the estate helps push youth toward better decisions and knowledge of the dangers of PCP specifically.

In the end, enough money is being provided to the surviving children of Mr. Leach to ensure a quality education and a good start in life.  Money does not, however, bring back Mr. Leach and by no means do I think that Mr. Leach was an evil person nor that people with drug issues can justifiably be killed.  All of the events surrounding the death of Mr. Leach can only be described as tragic.  The public and more specifically the residents of the involved towns, however, should know about this large settlement.

 

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