ELIZABETH, N.J. — A former NFL linebacker’s career was cut short after authorities in New Jersey fabricated evidence linking him to a gun used in a shooting, the player alleged in a lawsuit filed this week.
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 Kansas City Chiefs released Greene in May of last year, the day charges against him were reported.
Two months later, a gun charge against Greene was dropped after an audio recording surfaced of the accused shooter telling detectives he lied about Greene’s involvement in the shooting.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses the police and prosecutor’s office of “simultaneously manufacturing and fabricating false evidence in order to charge Plaintiff with a crime he did not commit.”
A spokesman for the county prosecutor’s office declined comment Thursday. A message left at the Elizabeth Police Department wasn’t immediately returned.
Greene, 29, 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 during 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.
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.