Philly cop with alleged history of disciplinary issues faces federal lawsuit

By Jon Campisi | Jul 11, 2011

A former college student who worked nights as a UPS deliveryman is suing a Philadelphia police officer in federal court, alleging she arrested him in a case of mistaken identity.

According to the federal lawsuit, which was filed July 6 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia resident Darnell C. Jackson, a 21-year-old working to pay his way through college with a UPS delivery route, was attempting to board a bus May 17, 2010 at the intersection of Farragut and Walnut streets when he was approached by 18th District Officer Deona S. Carter.

According to the complaint, Jackson had reached into his pocket and pulled out his UPS identification card and his state ID, but when he offered it up to Carter, she “violently smacked them out of his hand and onto the ground and told him she didn’t ask for that.”

Jackson tried to tell Carter that he was on his way to work, and had no idea why she would be stopping him, but she didn’t care to listen to his story, the lawsuit states. From there, Carter allegedly took Jackson down to the ground, and placed handcuffs on the plaintiff while backup officers “stepped on the back of his neck and back” as the arrested was being made.

Meanwhile, Jackson had dialed his girlfriend on his cell phone prior to, and during the encounter, the lawsuit states. The girlfriend was able to hear the entire encounter on the other end of the phone during the arrest.

Jackson’s mother eventually arrived on scene and attempted to defuse the situation, telling officers that her son was a “good boy and is in school,” the suit states. Carter, however, would not listen to the mother, telling her Jackson was “a grown man and that she [the mother] would have to wait for his phone call from the station.” Carter then allegedly sped off.

At the time of the arrest, Carter told the plaintiff he was being taken in for aggravated assault, simple assault and resisting arrest, the suit states. It wasn’t until he was on his way to the station that Jackson learned he was being arrested in connection with an earlier taxicab robbery.

“As a result of Miss Carter’s diligent efforts to focus police department resources on detaining, arresting, assaulting and the false charging of an innocent college student with a felony, the very Sunoco gas station where Mr. Jackson was arrested was then robbed, shortly after Miss Carter left, allegedly by the same individual that had robbed the taxi driver,” the lawsuit states.

The suspect in the taxicab and gas station robberies was subsequently arrested and processed in the same police station where Jackson was taken, the suit states. Regardless of the development, Jackson was still jailed for 36 hours and had to post $1,200 to make bail.

The criminal charges against Jackson were eventually dropped, since Carter failed to show up for four scheduled preliminary hearings at Philadelphia Municipal Court, according to the complaint. Nevertheless, Jackson was subsequently fired from his UPS job and continues to have a criminal arrest record, which required him to hire an attorney and pursue an expungment.

The lawsuit goes on to note Carter’s alleged history of bad behavior related to her job, stating that the officer has had 14 reported instances of excessive force, had an official reprimand for neglect of duty, allegedly had a relationship with a known drug dealer in 2005 and smoked marijuana with a convicted felon with an open criminal case against him, the lawsuit states.

Jackson’s suit contains counts of federal civil rights violations, negligence, assault and battery, and false imprisonment.

A jury trial has been demanded.

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