updated 12/13/2006 10:35:08 PM ET 2006-12-14T03:35:08

An unwritten rule of the road that police don’t hassle fellow officers collided head on with another that says never pass a state trooper, especially on the right.

The conflict is at the heart of a federal lawsuit by former Tinton Falls detective Gary Wade, who wounded up being pepper-sprayed and handcuffed face-down on the side of a road. Wade also was fired, and his lawsuit seeks $1 million from two state troopers and his own former department, his lawyer said at a news conference Wednesday.

Wade, 31, maintains that he was pulled over for no reason while driving to work in an unmarked police car.

The arresting state officer says he was provoked.

The August 2004 encounter was recorded by the trooper’s dashboard-mounted video camera and a microphone attached to the trooper’s lapel.

On the audio recording, Wade is heard repeatedly telling Trooper Michael Colaner to wait until a Tinton Falls police supervisor arrives before taking any further action.

“He was talking cop-to-cop,” Wade’s lawyer, Susan Chana Lask, told reporters. Asked why Wade didn’t simply hand over his identification or immediately state that he was a police officer, Lask said Wade pointed to his badge on his belt.

“It’s not a special privilege,” she said. “It’s just known between them.”

State Police Capt. Al Della Fave painted a much different picture. He said Colaner and his partner were driving a marked patrol car in the left lane when Wade’s car zoomed up behind them and tailgated them before swerving to the right and passing.

Wade was argumentative when they stopped him and ignored repeated requests to show identification, according to the officers’ reports.

“If he expected some special treatment for careless driving and refusing to identify himself, that will not happen, not for a police officer or for any civilian,” Della Fave said.

Lask called Colaner “a cop gone wild” and said of Wade, “He’s upset that his so-called brothers would do this to him.”

“The actual reason he was stopped is because he passed the state trooper vehicle on the right,” Lask said. “Officer Wade informed me it’s a known fact among officers that you never pass a state trooper vehicle; you let them pass you. They don’t like that.”

Lask said Wade demanded that a police supervisor come to the scene and refused to surrender his gun because he feared for his safety.

Wade was charged with obstruction of justice, careless driving and resisting arrest. He was convicted in municipal court of the first two offenses, and fired. Wade, who also is appealing the convictions, now works as a contractor and has no desire to be reinstated as a police officer.

Della Fave said two courts and an internal State Police probe have all concluded the trooper acted appropriately.

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