N.J. man sues Philly cops over arrest in mistaken identity case

Jon Campisi Nov. 29, 2014, 6:00pm


A New Jersey man who alleges he was wrongfully arrested, and subsequently held in police custody for 18 days, has filed a civil lawsuit against the Philadelphia police officer who made the initial arrest and 10 other unnamed officers involved in the incident two years ago.

In his complaint, which was filed Sept. 28 at Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas by attorneys Jeffrey Allen Sigman and James E. Hockenberry, Collingswood, N.J. resident Martin Martinez claims that Philadelphia Police Officer Anthony Avery detained him without probable cause during an encounter outside a Northwest Philadelphia convenience store on Nov. 13, 2009.

The complaint states that Avery and another officer, who is a codefendant in the case, approached Martinez after he exited a 7-11 in the city’s Manayunk section and demanded that Martinez hand over the keys to his vehicle.

At first Martinez protested, saying he had done nothing wrong to warrant police interaction, but the officers told Martinez that if he failed to hand over his keys and let them search his vehicle, they would arrest him and take him to jail.

After Martinez handed the officers his keys, the cops conducted a search of his vehicle. The officers then ran the plaintiff’s information and discovered that there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest out of either Bucks or Montgomery County in suburban Philadelphia, the lawsuit states. Martinez was then told the warrant for his arrest was actually from Texas, and it was then that he was taken into custody.

“Plaintiff advised Avery and the unknown police officer that he was never in Texas and produced his Pennsylvania Driver’s License with his date of birth on it to prove that he was not the individual from whom an outstanding warrant from Texas existed,” the lawsuit states.

Nevertheless, Martinez was held in police custody for 18 days and was charged with Arrest Prior to Requisition, the suit claims.

On March 10, 2010, after appearing before a Philadelphia judge, the case against Martinez was dropped and he was released from custody.

On July 21, 2010, Martinez was granted an expungement, which states that he was wrongfully arrested, the complaint states.

The lawsuit claims that the defendants violated the plaintiff’s civil and constitutional rights, specifically his Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The suit claims that Martinez has suffered emotional trauma, loss of liberty and incarceration, embarrassment and humiliation, damage to his reputation and loss of employment causing him to sustain wage losses.

It also seeks reimbursement for counsel fees of approximately $6,000 for his criminal defense and expungement proceeding and $800 he had to pay in bail.

In addition to the contested monies that had to be spent on legal fees, the lawsuit demands judgment against the defendants for unspecified punitive damages, interest and delay damages.

The lawsuit contains counts of false imprisonment and false arrest.

The non-jury trial is scheduled for a June 4, 2012 arbitration hearing.

The case number is 110903319.

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