Legally blind man sues Phila. police for unprovoked detention and beating

By Jon Campisi | Feb 24, 2012

A legally blind Philadelphia man who claims city police officers stopped him for no reason while walking along a downtown street and beat him, despite pleadings from his companions that he had no eyesight, has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia and the officers involved in the alleged altercation.

In his lawsuit, which was filed Feb. 21 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by attorney Adrian J. Moody, Darrell Holloway claims that he was accosted without provocation by a couple of Philly cops when Holloway was walking with friends along the 4600 block of Walnut Street in Philadelphia back on Aug. 19, 2011 at about 9:30 in the evening.

The two police officers allegedly involved in the encounter, Anthony Lazaro and an officer whose last name is Peterson, no first name given, are each named as defendants in the suit.

There are also two John Doe police officers named as additional defendants.

According to the complaint, Lazaro and Peterson were driving by Holloway and his friends while on routine patrol, when they decided to stop and interact with the group.

The suit claims that the officers had no reason to believe any illegal activity was afoot at the time, and thus had no authority to detain the men.

Nevertheless, Lazaro approached Halloway and began to “interrogate him,” the lawsuit claims, and when Holloway returned answers that were unacceptable to Lazaro, the officer physically restrained Halloway and ran the plaintiff’s name through a police computer.

All the while, Holloway attempted to regain his footing, struggling against Lazaro’s efforts to keep Holloway off balance, the suit states.

At this point, the others in the group told Lazaro that Holloway was blind, but the efforts did no good, and when Holloway again attempted to right himself, Lazaro began to strike Holloway in the face and head with closed fists and a metal police baton, according to the complaint.

Holloway’s friends continued to yell, “he’s blind, he’s blind,” but Lazaro, who was joined in the beating by Peterson, continued his attack.

The other officers eventually arrived and joined in on the attack as well, the suit claims.

Holloway was eventually put into a police car and transported to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Holloway was eventually charged with several criminal offenses, including resisting arrest, aggravated and simple assault and reckless endangerment of another person.

The reckless endangerment charge was eventually dismissed for lack of evidence, but the other charges remained and are still pending.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of unreasonable seizure, false arrest, deprivation of liberty, malicious prosecution and assault and battery.

The lawsuit also contains counts of alleged state constitutional violations.

The complaint accuses the city of failing to properly train its police officers to ensure that citizens’ constitutional rights are upheld during a police interaction.

The suit also claims that the defendant officers engaged in excessive force and unreasonable physical force against Holloway during the encounter.

For each of the six counts listed in the complaint, Holloway demands judgment against the defendants in a sum in excess of $150,000, plus attorney’s fees and other costs.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00887-CMR.

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