Woman arrested for staying silent during traffic stop sues

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A Philadelphia woman who was arrested after she refused to answer questions during a traffic stop in New Jersey has sued state police, claiming troopers violated basic rules by arresting her for remaining silent.

Rebecca Musarra, an attorney, filed the federal civil rights lawsuit after the Oct. 16 stop on Route 519 near the border with Pennsylvania in Warren County, NJ.com reported (http://bit.ly/21zKGbV ). At least three troopers insisted after she was pulled over that refusing to answer questions was a criminal act, according to the lawsuit.

Spokesmen for the state police and the attorney general’s office, which is representing the troopers, declined to comment on the allegations. State police spokesman Capt. Stephen Jones said the department’s internal affairs office conducts a review any time misconduct is alleged.

“In the event that problems are identified, training and/or disciplinary measures are implemented where appropriate,” Jones said in an email.

Lawyers for the state have sought in court filings to have the case dismissed, claiming that the troopers “acted in good faith and without fraud or malice.”

A trooper pulled Musarra over for suspected speeding, requested her license, registration and insurance, and asked if she knew why she was being pulled over, according to dash camera footage obtained by NJ.com through an open records request. Musarra said she provided the documents but didn’t respond to the troopers.

“You’re going to be placed under arrest if you don’t answer my questions,” one of the troopers told her before she was handcuffed and taken to a police station. Musarra asked the troopers if she was being detained, and one of the troopers said, “Yeah, obstruction.”

Musarra said a supervisor watched dashboard camera footage and let her go without charges.

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