City of Philadelphia and four cops named in federal civil rights lawsuit

Jon Campisi Jul. 29, 2011, 9:48am

A Philadelphia man who alleges he sustained injuries after what he maintains was an unlawful arrest is suing the City of Philadelphia and a handful of municipal police officers.

Philadelphia attorneys Patrick G. Geckle and Maureen O’Connor filed the federal civil rights complaint July 26 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of city resident Justin Agard.

The four cops named as defendants in the lawsuit are Luis Rivera, Daniel Pariseau, Kenneth Emmett and Quay Chim.

According to the complaint, Agard was walking to his car with friends on Nov. 6, 2010, when they were approached by officers Emmett and Rivera, who told them to move along and “Get the [obscenity] up the block.”

The group had just left Club Fuzion at 460 N. 2nd St.

As the group continued to move along, Agard asked Emmett if he was all right and if he had anything to eat that night.

The officer immediately became agitated, and began walking toward the plaintiff in an aggressive manner, the lawsuit states.

As the officer approached, Agard put his hands in the air to show compliance, the suit states. Despite his non-aggressive nature, Agard was told he was being placed under arrest. Emmett then proceeded to grab Agard’s arm and place it behind his back.

At this point, officers Rivera and Chim got involved in the altercation, with all three of them pushing Agard’s face up against a fence, causing two of his front teeth to chip, the lawsuit states.

It was then that Officer Pariseau showed up on the opposite side of the fence, reaching through and pulling Agard toward the fence, causing Agard to sustain more damage to his teeth and mouth.

Agard was eventually transported to the police station where he was charged with disorderly conduct. The charge, however, didn’t stick; it was dismissed in late January of this year after a trial at Philadelphia Municipal Court.

“As a direct and proximate result of the actions of Defendant Officers, Plaintiff, Justin Agard, was arrested and subjected to unreasonable force and arrest without probable cause or any other lawful basis,” the lawsuit claims. “Defendant officers acted willfully, deliberately, maliciously or with reckless disregard of Plaintiff’s constitutional and statutory rights.”

As a result of the 2010 incident, the lawsuit states, Agard sustained physical injuries, suffering, loss of liberty, financial loss, confinement and emotional trauma, “all to his detriment and loss.”

In addition to the claims against the police officers, the complaint accuses the City of Philadelphia of being “deliberately indifferent” to unreasonable use of force on the part of its officers.

Agard seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, along with attorney’s fees and other related costs. He has demanded a jury trial.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-04617-JD.

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