A Philadelphia woman who alleges two city police officers forced her to remove clothing so they could take cellphone photographs of parts of her body for their own personal amusement has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia and the cops involved in the alleged incident.
Attorney John F. Hanahan, of the Philadelphia law firm of Rosenbaum & Associates, P.C., filed the civil action March 12 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Ana Rios.
The two officers named as defendants in the suit are Howard Lee and Gary Bonilla.
According to the complaint, Rios called police at about 2:15 a.m. on June 28, 2010, to report an altercation with a fellow patron at Love’s Bar.
Rios had left the bar when she was followed outside by the other patron.
Due to the man’s continuing threats, Rios got into her vehicle and made the 911 call for assistance, the lawsuit states.
Rios then drove around the block, and when she returned to the bar, she discovered that the offender had left.
It was at this point that Lee and Bonilla arrived on scene.
Rios did not report the incident to the two officers since the other bar patron had left at that point, eliminating the threat, the lawsuit states.
Rios then drove away but was followed by the officers, according to the complaint. After she noticed the officers following her vehicle in their patrol car, Rios pulled over to allow the cops to pass, but they instead pulled up alongside Rios, got out of their patrol car, approached Rios and asked her to remove her shirt, the lawsuit claims.
Lee ordered Rios to move her shirt aside while telling her partner, Bonilla, to take a picture of the plaintiff’s breasts, the suit alleges.
Lee then ordered Rios to pull up her dress and pull down her underwear, the lawsuit states.
At this point Bonilla took a picture of Rios below the waist, according to the complaint.
The two officers then looked at the cellphone images before returning to their police cruiser and leaving the scene, the suit states.
Rios then drove to the 25th Police District to report the incident to supervisors. She has also given two separate statements to police department investigators.
The lawsuit claims that the alleged incident deprived Rios of her civil rights, specifically, her Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The lawsuit blames the City of Philadelphia for failing to properly sanction or discipline its officers “despite being aware of and concealing and/or aid and abet violations of constitutional rights of citizens by other Officers, thereby causing and encouraging Officers, including Defendants, Howard Lee and Gary Bonilla, to violate the rights of citizens such as Ana Rios.”
The lawsuit claims that the officers are not protected by immunity because their actions constituted a crime, actual malice or willful misconduct.
The complaint also contains state law claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery and false imprisonment.
Rios suffered trauma, emotional injuries, pain and suffering, anxiety, physical injuries, past medical expenses, future medical expenses, past lost earning capacity, future loss of earnings, past and future embarrassment and humiliation, loss of the ability to enjoy life’s pleasures, loss of liberty and freedom and incidental costs, the suit claims.
Rios demands compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other court costs. She also seeks a trial by jury.
The federal case number is 2:12-cv-01272-HB.