Phila. junk hauler files claim against cops over false arrest and three-month incarceration

By Jon Campisi | Dec 22, 2011

A Philadelphia junk hauler who claims he was wrongfully arrested by city cops this summer, and subsequently imprisoned for a three-month period, after what he claims was a misunderstanding over his hiring to remove items from a residential property in the city, has filed a lawsuit against the arresting officers in state court.

Philadelphia attorney David S. Nenner filed the civil action Dec. 19 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Damair Dabney and his wife, Sheraye Dabney.

The defendants named in the complaint are Philadelphia police officers Daniel Godlewski and Paul Brown, as well as detective James Revell.

According to the civil action, Damair Dabney, who operates a company called Junk Bee Gone, was contacted by an individual in late August in regards to the desired removal of old copper piping, radiators and other scrap items from a property on North 21st Street in North Philadelphia.

The afternoon of Aug. 30, Dabney traveled to the location and began to fill his truck with the items, the suit states.

About 15 minutes later, Godlewski showed up and ended up arresting Dabney and charging him with criminal trespass, burglary and related charges, according to the complaint.

Dabney was incarcerated for the next three months at Graterford State Correctional Institution in Montgomery County, Pa.

On Nov. 30, the lawsuit states, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office determined that the listed owner of the property at which the arrest took place had, in fact, been deceased at the time of the plaintiff’s alleged offenses.

Prosecutors therefore opted to withdraw the criminal charges against Dabney, the suit states.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery, intentional misrepresentation, and malicious prosecution and abuse of process.

The complaint alleges that the officers arrested Dabney without ever having checked to see whether there was a “viable owner to the subject property who as alleged by police in the arrest warrant issued against plaintiff and the police reports failed to give plaintiff permission to enter the premises and remove those items.”

The suit also claims that authorities intentionally misrepresented that the owner of the subject property was a “living and viable complainant” who had denied Dabney permission to enter the premises and remove the items.

The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of intentionally falsifying paper work related to the case, such as the affidavit of probable cause used to obtain the arrest warrant for Dabney.

As a result of the incident, the suit claims, Dabney suffered “great pain and suffering with mental and physical traumatic anxiety reaction, nervousness, psychological and emotional disorders,” a deprivation of life’s pleasures and embarrassment.

Dabney seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as interest, delay damages and other court costs.

Dabney’s wife, Sheraye, has a loss of consortium count in the lawsuit in which she claims her husband’s arrest and subsequent incarceration deprived her of his society and companionship.

The case number is 111202209.

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