'Ghost hunting' Chester, Pa. cop sues Upland police officers for false arrest

By Jon Campisi | Sep 13, 2012

It remains to be seen whether or not the premises is haunted, but what is clear is that Diane Briscoe is haunted by the memory of being unlawfully arrested by colleagues after she was mistakenly pegged as a burglar at a house at which she and her sons were conducting a paranormal investigation.

Briscoe, a Chester, Pa. police officer who for the past two decades has also operated a side business conducting investigations at homes with suspected paranormal activity, filed suit in federal court in Philadelphia this week against two police officers from neighboring Upland Borough and the municipality itself over claims that she was unlawfully arrested at the time she was conducting one of her paranormal investigations.

The complaint, filed Sept. 11 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by attorneys with the Chester firm Oxman Goodstadt & Kuritz, states that Briscoe and her two sons were retained by an Upland homeowner to investigate claims of paranormal activity at the woman’s house.

During the investigation on Sept. 19, 2010, at about 8:30 in the evening, the defendants, Upland Officers Steven Jackson and Steven Carr, entered the home, allegedly without probable cause or legal justification, and forced Briscoe and her two sons, one of whom was a minor, to the ground at gunpoint.

The officers then handcuffed all three plaintiffs despite the fact that Diane Briscoe repeatedly informed the officers that she was a cop in neighboring Chester City, the lawsuit states.

Briscoe also attempted to have the two officers call her client to determine that she and her sons had permission to be on the premises, and were not trespassers, but the defendants never tried to contact the property owner, the suit states.

The officers ended up charging the plaintiffs with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, according to the complaint.

The charges were dismissed in January of last year by a magisterial district judge.

The complaint accuses the officers of violating the plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights. It also contains counts of false arrest, deprivation of federally protected rights, failure to investigate, assault and battery and malicious prosecution.

The suit also contains a claim against Upland Borough for failure to train, supervise and discipline its police officers.

“Defendant, Upland Borough and its police department as a further matter of policy and practice failed to train properly its police officers, including defendant Officers Jackson and Carr in this case, with respect to the constitutional, statutory and departmental limits of their authority,” the lawsuit states.

“The defendant borough and police department were on actual notice of a need to train, supervise, discipline or terminate its defendant officers prior to the incident in question as other similar incidents have occurred in the past.”

The plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, interest and litigation costs.

A jury trial is being sought.


The federal case number is 2:12-cv-05176-MSG.

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