ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — Authorities manufactured evidence to pursue a gun charge against a former NFL linebacker even after another man admitted lying about getting a weapon from the player, a lawsuit alleges.
The Elizabeth police department and Union County prosecutor’s office “willfully ignored and were deliberately indifferent to overwhelming evidence” that Khaseem Greene hadn’t provided the weapon used in a shooting outside a nightclub in Elizabeth in December 2016.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses the defendants of “simultaneously manufacturing and fabricating false evidence in order to charge Plaintiff with a crime he did not commit.”
Greene is an Elizabeth native who was a Big East defensive player of the year while at Rutgers. He appeared in a total of 25 games for the Chicago Bears in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, starting six games at linebacker.
The lawsuit charges numerous counts including civil rights violations, false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution, negligence and defamation. It seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages, including for past and future economic loss.
It also seeks the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee the Elizabeth police department.
According to the lawsuit, the man charged with the shooting, a career criminal with more than 20 prior arrests and six felony convictions, admitted he lied about getting the gun from Greene during an interview with police after his arrest in late December 2016.
Nevertheless, authorities went ahead and charged Greene, citing surveillance video that allegedly showed Greene handing the gun to the man, Jason Sanders. No such video existed, the lawsuit alleges.
A gun charge against Greene was dropped in July 2017 after an audio recording surfaced of Sanders telling detectives he lied about Greene’s involvement in the shooting.
The Kansas City Chiefs released Greene in May of last year, the day charges against him were reported.
Greene last August said the legal trouble has been “probably the toughest time of my life” and has been “very hard emotionally and mentally.”
“People started looking at me differently and accusing me of being this thug, this monster, and all of it was false,” he said by phone.
The suit names the Elizabeth Police Department and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office as well as individuals in both offices.
Messages seeking comment left with the agencies weren’t immediately returned.