Philadelphia man files federal civil rights complaint alleging police abuse

Jon Campisi Sep. 21, 2011, 6:38am

A Philadelphia man is suing the city and unnamed police officers over an alleged incident of brutality in which the cops reportedly broke into his home and roughed him up.

Philadelphia attorney Reginald Allen filed the federal civil rights complaint Sept. 19 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Vincent Payne.

According to the lawsuit, the police showed up to Payne’s Rosemore Street home on June 9, 2010 at the plaintiff’s request after a female friend who was staying with him had apparently been acting “out of control.”

Upon their arrival, Payne assured officers that everything had settled down between the time of the problem and the officers’ subsequent arrival. The cops then left.

After the officers left, the female friend of Payne’s had once again started acting up, leading the officers to return to the home, the suit states. At this point, the officers began knocking loudly on Payne’s door, and despite the fact that he was partially dressed, and told them he’d be right there to answer the door, the police instead kicked in the door, knocking it off its hinges, the suit states.

Upon their entry, one of the police officers allegedly said something to the effect of, “oh, so you like hitting women,” before the officer allegedly punched Payne in the face, according to the complaint.

The officers then pulled Payne outside of the house where they proceeded to throw him forcefully to the ground, the lawsuit states, an action that caused Payne to believe he suffered a concussion.

One of the officers then allegedly placed his boot on Payne’s head/face, threatening to hit Payne with the officer’s blackjack if Payne moved from the spot.

The officers then handcuffed Payne and took him to Albert Einstein Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. They subsequently charged Payne with domestic violence and endangering the welfare of a child, the lawsuit states. In September 2010, however, the criminal charges against Payne were dismissed.

“Plaintiff had not committed any crime on June 10, 2010, and the police lacked probable cause to arrest him,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit notes that officers did not possess a warrant that would have allowed them to enter Payne’s home, and that there were no exigent circumstances that would have justified warrantless entry.

In addition to the officers themselves, Payne, through his lawsuit, lays blame at the foot of city leadership, saying officials failed to keep a handle on cops who shouldn’t have been serving in the capacity of a police officer in the first place.

The suit also accuses the city of failing to take disciplinary action against officers who were subject of prior civilian or internal complaints of misconduct.

Payne seeks judgment in the form of unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees and other court costs.

The plaintiff has demanded a jury trial.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-05901-JCJ.

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