Phillies '09 World Series celebrant files complaint over wrongful arrest

Jon Campisi Oct. 21, 2011, 10:14am

A Philadelphia woman who claims she was wrongfully arrested, and subsequently humiliated at having had her arrest broadcast on the local news, has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the City of Philadelphia and one of its police officers.

Through her civil complaint, which was filed Oct. 19 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Jenkintown, Pa. attorney Harry J. Kane, Jr., of Saffren & Weinberg, Amanda Leonetti claims there was no justification for her arrest during the early morning hours of Oct. 22, 2009, which coincided with the Philadelphia Phillies’ clinching the pennant.

The suit, which names Philadelphia Police Officer Jean Spicer as a codefendant, claims that Leonetti was among thousands of baseball fans celebrating the World Series win in the area of Broad and Shunk streets in South Philadelphia.

Spicer, who had been stationed in the area for crowd control, encountered Leonetti while the plaintiff was allegedly attempting to cross Broad Street on the way to her Wolf Street home, at which time the officer “threw her [Leonetti] to the ground, placed plastic handcuffs upon her and physically abused her, without cause or justification,” the lawsuit claims.

The complaint states that Leonetti, who was subsequently charged with disorderly conduct, was taken to the local police station, where she remained until her release a few hours later.

The suit claims that the disorderly conduct charge was “pretextually fabricated by Officer Spicer to cover for her assault upon the plaintiff.”

As a result of the incident, the suit claims, Leonetti suffered physical injuries, shame and humiliation, especially after her arrest was covered in local news reports.

Specifically, Leonetti suffered wrist trauma; injuries to her nervous system; damage to her reputation; post-traumatic stress and anxiety syndrome; extreme fear, paranoia and fear, especially upon seeing police officers; severe degradation, humiliation, embarrassment, emotional stress and anxiety; and sleeplessness, dizziness, nausea and feelings of despair, the suit claims.

Nearly two months later, in mid December 2009, the criminal charges against Leonetti were dismissed by a trial court because the city and Officer Spicer failed to proceed, the complaint states.

The lawsuit claims that Leonetti has suffered earning losses, has had to spend money on medical treatment and most likely will incur other financial expenses.

The lawsuit contains counts of civil rights violations, excessive force, false arrest, false imprisonment and infliction of emotional distress.

For each of the counts listed, Leonetti demands judgment against the defendants in a sum in excess of $100,000, plus attorney’s fees, interest and related court relief.

The plaintiff is not demanding a trial by jury.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-06544-PD.

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