'Rogue' Pa. cop who zapped teenager with Taser faces federal complaint

Jon Campisi Dec. 16, 2011, 12:07pm

The mother of a young teenager from the Lehigh Valley whose tazing by an Allentown, Pa. police officer was caught on camera has filed a lawsuit against the cop in federal court.

Allentown resident Victoria Geist had the lawsuit filed Dec. 7 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of her 14-year-old daughter, Keshana Wilson, who, according to the suit, was seized from behind by Allentown Police Officer Jason Ammary back in late September after school let out, and subsequently subdued with a Taser gun in front of onlookers.

The lawsuit, filed by Allentown attorney Richard J. Orloski, claims that at about 2:50 p.m. Sept. 29, Ammary grabbed Wilson from behind “with great force,” all the while never identifying himself as a police officer.

The suit alleges that the actions of the officer may have been racially motivated, since Wilson, who is biracial, was the only one accosted, not her white companions who were walking by her side at the time.

During the altercation, the lawsuit claims, Ammary “violently” pushed Wilson into the side of a parked car, used his right forearm to press into her throat, and then proceeded to grab his police-issued Taser gun.

At the sight of the Taser, Wilson raised her two arms into the air “to indicate surrender,” the suit claims, and said “no,” but Ammary nonetheless proceeded to zap her with the Taser in her pelvic area “in order to inflict the maximum amount of pain.”

After she fell to the ground, Wilson was berated by Ammary for her perceived socio economic status, the lawsuit alleges. The officer then instructed Wilson to lie flat on her stomach, despite the fact that the Taser barbs were still inside her body, thereby increasing the pain she was experiencing.

Ammary eventually summoned a school security officer and instructed the man to handcuff Wilson, after which the girl was transported by ambulance to the hospital to have the Taser barbs removed from her body, the suit states. While inside the ambulance, Ammary allegedly continued to berate Wilson over her socioeconomic status.

The lawsuit claims that during testimony, Ammary alleged that he had seized Wilson for a “purported summary offense,” although specifics aren’t offered.

The suit claims Wilson’s seizure constituted “an unlawful arrest without probable cause.”

As a result of the incident, the complaint states, Wilson suffered mental pain and anxiety, anguish, distress, stress, sleeplessness and humiliation.

The lawsuit contains counts of illegal arrest; retaliatory filing of charges related to Ammary allegedly attempting to cover up his act by issuing to Wilson unfounded charges of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment; excessive use of force; and failure to control a rogue officer.

The latter count is a claim against the codefendant in the lawsuit, the City of Allentown.

“At all times herein relevant Defendant, City of Allentown, intentionally, purposefully and knowingly had a policy, practice, regulation or custom of giving minimal training about the usage of the taser, especially on a nonviolent female minor,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint alleges that the city had notice prior to this incident that Ammary was a “rogue officer who could not be trusted.”

The suit doesn’t offer specifics related to the final claim.

The plaintiff’s seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees and other court costs.

The federal case number is 5:11-cv-07532-LS.

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