Alleged assault by plainclothes Philly cops basis for civil rights lawsuit

Jon Campisi Aug. 25, 2011, 12:10pm

A New Jersey man who, while working in Philadelphia, was accosted by two men later discovered to be plainclothes police officers has filed a federal lawsuit against the two, alleging that his civil rights were violated during his encounter with the cops.

Philadelphia lawyer John N. Rightmyer filed the lawsuit Aug. 23 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Avdula Ndreu of Sicklerville, N.J.

The police officers listed as defendants are Police Officer Goodwin, (no first game given), and Police Officer Doe, (name also unknown at the time of the filing).

According to the complaint, Ndreu was driving down the 600 block of Norris Street on Feb. 15, 2010, while making an errand run to pick up lunch supplies for the business his parents operate near Temple University, when he came upon a vehicle obstructing the roadway.

With the help of one of the men standing near the car, Ndreu was able to squeeze by the vehicle, but just barely, the suit states. Ndreu then, through his car window, told one of the men that “you should move your car.” He then got to the end of the street, stopped his vehicle, got out his cell phone, and proceeded to call 911 to report a vehicle blocking the roadway, the lawsuit states.

It was at this point that defendant Goodwin, who had still not identified himself as a police officer, approached Ndreu’s vehicle. Ndreu asked Goodwin if there was a problem, the suit states, and when Goodwin told him to open the door, Ndreu said “no,” thinking Goodwin was a “thug since he was dressed in street clothes and aggressive in manner.”

“Defendant Goodwin then, immediately and without warning, yanked open the door to Plaintiff Avdula Ndreu’s car and jumped inside and partially on top of Plaintiff pushing Plaintiff over the middle console of the car and nearly into the passenger seat,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant Goodwin had his right hand or forearm on Plaintiff Avdula Ndreu’s throat/neck as he grabbed for Plaintiff’s phone using his left hand.”

It was only after Goodwin obtained the phone that he finally took out a badge identifying himself as an undercover police officer, the lawsuit claims. Ndreu then began cooperating with the officers’ demands to show identification and answer questions, the suit states. Still, Ndreu had trouble breathing due to the encounter, and he asked the officers to call him an ambulance, a request they reportedly ignored, even laughing at him at times.

A uniformed police officer eventually arrived, but he, too, ignored Ndreu’s pleas for medical attention, saying the situation was between the two plainclothes officers and Ndreu, the suit states. The patrolman then left the scene.

After the encounter, the officers tossed Ndreu’s paperwork back inside his vehicle, and told the driver to leave the scene before they “arrested” him.

Ndreu eventually filed an official complaint with the 26th Police District, which was forwarded to Internal Affairs.

“Defendant Goodwin and Defendant PO Doe had no legitimate reason, justification, probable cause or reasonable suspicion reason whatsoever to seize, detain, search, assault and abuse Plaintiff,” the lawsuit states.

The actions on the part of the officers, the lawsuit claims, “was motivated by personal anger, antagonism and animus toward Plaintiff Ndreu and meant and intended to retaliate against him and punish him for expressing his opinion and calling the Defendant’s own police department to report the car that was obstructing the road.”

The lawsuit contains counts of civil rights violations, assault and battery and municipal liability on the part of the City of Philadelphia.

Ndreu seeks judgment in the form of unspecified compensatory damages, punitive damages and other relief.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-05333-GP.

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