False arrest leads to civil rights claim against Philadelphia Police

Jon Campisi Dec. 27, 2011, 9:18am

The City of Philadelphia has been hit with a federal civil rights complaint relating to a mother and son’s allegations that the teenager was wrongfully and forcefully arrested by city police last winter in a case of mistaken identity.

Philadelphia attorney Reginald C. Allen filed the civil action Dec. 22 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of city residents Sandra Capps Max-Lee Archer.

The plaintiffs are mother and son.

Aside from the city, an unspecified number of unidentified Philly cops are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, the officers “forcefully entered” the plaintiff’s home on Feb. 1 after receiving a report that it contained a suspect that the department had been seeking out in a home invasion case.

Police said they were there to arrest Archer, who they contended fit a description of one of the suspect’s given to them by a 16-year-old neighborhood youth, the suit states.

Convinced they had the right suspect, the officers “excessively” and forcefully handcuffed Archer, who was sitting at his computer at the time of the police raid, according to the lawsuit.

One of the officers allegedly caused Archer physical pain after one of the young man’s fingers were pinched during the arrest process, the suit states, and another officer allegedly told Archer he would have “[obscenity] him up,” if his mother hadn’t been in the room at the time.

The officers ended up transporting Archer to the local police district for booking; they told the mother she was not allowed to follow them there else she would be arrested herself, the suit claims.

Capps was brought to the station later on that day for questioning and/or arrest, the lawsuit states.

Both were eventually released from custody.

The lawsuit claims that Archer clearly doesn’t fit the physical description given to police by the neighborhood youth who claimed to have been an eyewitness to the crime.

Aside from being the wrong complexion, the suit claims that Archer has no tattoos on his hand, while the suspect description contained such a marking.

“Upon information and belief, the teenager who allegedly identified plaintiff Archer as one of the perpetrators is emotionally disturbed, which should have been clear to police upon their observation of him,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint alleges that Archer suffered physical pain and extreme emotional distress as a result of the false arrest.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of violating the plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

It also accuses the City of Philadelphia of being indifferent to police actions such as false arrest, and it accuses the officers of unreasonable use of force and unlawful seizure.

Furthermore, the suit accuses city leadership of failing to identify and discipline the officers involved in the incident.

The plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-07781-TJS.

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