Westfield Municipal Judge Parag Patel this morning dismissed Linden Councilman John Francis Roman’s complaint Linden against Mayor Derek Armstead stemming from a 2018 City Hall incident.
The episode allegedly occurred prior to a scheduled council meeting. Following what Roman says was a hard shoulder check by the mayor, the councilman went downstairs and filed a simple assault charge against Armstead.
Today, Judge Patel tosssed it after the case bounced from Linden to Elizabeth to Cranford and finally to his jurisdiction in Westfield.
“It was a frivolous lawsuit based on a false accusation and justice prevailed,” Armstead told InsiderNJ. “It’s troubling that a person could make an accusation like this that actually makes it to court, but again, justice prevailed.”
At the time, according to the Roman, the elected officials were debating the merits of making the Linden Tigers a citywide mascot, considering the downside of conceivably overhauling the industrial city in orange and black.
Armstead, said Roman, pushed back against the protests.
Then Councilwoman Gretchen Hickey, who was then running against the mayor in a three-way contest that also included Councilwoman Rhashonna Cosby, countered that her council colleague expressed fair concerns.
“Those are good, valid points,” Hickey said.
Armstead, according to Roman, turned to his citywide rival and said, “It is f’ing stupid and you’re f’ing stupid.”
Roman told InsiderNJ that the remark stopped the room.
The councilman said moments later, the mayor approached him and rebuked him for going on Facebook to complain about another matter.
There, at close quarters, Armstead allegedly told the councilman, “I’d like to knock your f’ing head off.”
Roman said his reaction was something along the lines of, “Is that really necessary? Are you really doing this right now?”
Councilman Ralph Strano attempted to intervene, Roman said, at which point, “He [the mayor] shoulder checks me hard.”
Council President Jorge Alvarez – a Hickey ally – said, “You can’t hit a councilman.”
Armstead moments afterwards chided Roman for being childish.
“This is my game you’re playing,” Roman said the mayor told him.
At that point, he went down to police headquarters to file the simple assault charge.
“Never a dull moment,” a cop crowed down the hall as the council proceeded to chew into the night’s agenda items during its regularly scheduled public meeting.
InsiderNJ asked Armstead what he thought of the incident.
He seemed surprised.
“Good,” he said, when informed of the filed assault charge.
What was his version of events?
“I was trying to get him off me,” the mayor said.