Philadelphia Police Department faces assault and battery lawsuit

By Jon Campisi | Sep 27, 2011

A Philadelphia man has filed an assault and battery lawsuit against the Philadelphia Police Department for what the plaintiff contends was an unlawful arrest and detention stemming from an incident last summer.

City resident Donnell L. Jones filed the pro se complaint Sept. 23 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against the PPD, as well as police Sgt. Paul DeCarlo and two unnamed police officers.

According to his complaint, Jones was sitting in his vehicle on the 800 block of Uber Street on July 6, 2010 around 7:30 p.m. when the defendant officers, who were going the wrong way up Uber Street, approached his vehicle and asked him to roll down the car window.

When Jones asked why he was being questioned, he alleges DeCarlo remove his service pistol, pointed it at Jones’ window and proceeded to again ask him to roll down the window, this time using profanity, the suit states.

DeCarlo then reached inside the vehicle, unlocked the doors and told the plaintiff to get out of his car, all the while pointing the firearm in the plaintiff’s face, the suit claims.

DeCarlo then searched and subsequently handcuffed Jones and placed him into the rear of a police squad car.

The lawsuit claims that DeCarlo had no probable cause to search the plaintiff and his vehicle, nor did he have a warrant.

“This search was conducted in a violent and abusive manner, during the course of which Defendant Sgt. DeCarlo pulled, shoved, cuffed and verbally assaulted and abused plaintiff with the intent and purpose of humiliating and embarrassing Plaintiff in the presence of the public generally and particularly the people at the scene,” the suit states.

The officers did not find anything incriminating or dangerous on Jones or inside his vehicle, the suit states, but they nevertheless ordered him to sit inside the police vehicle with the windows up on a hot summer day.

Jones had asked the officers to roll down the windows but to no avail, the suit claims.

DeCarlo then asked Jones how to start his vehicle, since the security system had disabled the car, but the officer had difficulty getting the vehicle started, and he threatened to “tear the car apart” if he was unable to get it running, the lawsuit claims.

Jones was eventually transported to the 9th Police District station, where he underwent strip searches and alleged inhumane treatment. Jones was subsequently placed in a cell where he was held for two days, being fed only a total of eight slices of bread with a piece of cheese on them and four eight-ounce containers of water over the entire time he was held, the suit claims.

Jones continued to be questioned on how to operate his vehicle during his brief incarceration, the suit states.

As a result of the incident, Jones suffered a loss of physical liberty, loss of property, intentional and offensive contact with his body, a fear of imminent peril resulting from an officer attempting to injure him, malicious prosecution and defamation of character.

The lawsuit contains counts of assault and battery, and false imprisonment.

Jones demands judgment against the defendants in a sum in excess of $50,000, plus court costs and other relief. Jones is also seeking punitive damages.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The case number is 110902679.

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