Philadelphia couple sues Philly cop and city for alleged police abuses

By Jon Campisi | Sep 7, 2011

A Philadelphia man who claims he was physically assaulted without cause in his own home by a city police officer has filed a federal lawsuit against the public servant.

The complaint, which alleges assault and battery, as well as civil rights violations, was filed Sept. 2 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Philadelphia attorney Timothy R. Hough of the firm Jaffe & Hough. The plaintiffs are John Morell and his wife, Janet Morell, as well as the couple’s minor daughter, Aimee Elizabeth Noel, who the lawsuit alleges had to witness the physical assault upon her father.

The complaint names as defendants Police Officer Michael Winkler and the City of Philadelphia.

According to the complaint, John Morell was arrested by Winkler on July 28, 2010 after the officer “forcibly entered plaintiff’s home by breaking through the door to the residence in the absence of a valid arrest warrant or valid search warrant.”

Once inside, the lawsuit claims, John Morell was subjected to “unreasonable, unnecessary and excessive physical force as he was slammed to the floor on his head and/or assaulted by Officer Winkler without cause.”

“Moreover, during the arrest of the plaintiff, John Morell, his minor stepdaughter, Aimee Elizabeth Noel, was in the presence of the beating and was subjected to watching her stepfather be thrashed about by a sworn peace officer,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit does not state why police went to the Morell home in the first place. Nor does it state what John Morell was charged with criminally following the arrest.

As a result of the alleged assault, John Morell sustained various physical injuries, the lawsuit claims, including severe head trauma, post-concussion syndrome, tooth loss, nasal fracture and septal deviation, aggravation of pre-existent bilateral knee pathology, headaches, and other injuries.

Through the lawsuit, John Morell alleges a violation of his constitutional rights to be free from excessive use of force and to be free from summary punishment; a loss of physical liberty; and physical pain and suffering.

As a result of the alleged excessive force, the plaintiff suffered open head lacerations that required suturing, emotional upset and trauma, humiliation and embarrassment, and injury to his reputation, the suit claims.

The suit claims that the City of Philadelphia has “encouraged, tolerated, ratified and has been deliberately indifferent to” abuses of police powers as outlined in the complaint.

The lawsuit also contains a false arrest count.

The plaintiffs demand judgment against the defendants in the form of compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other court costs.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-05539-GP.

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