A Philadelphia man who claims he was falsely charged with murder, an act that subsequently caused him to be known in media headlines as the “Nova Killer,” has filed a federal complaint against the officers involved in what he claims was his unwarranted arrest.

Kenneth Woods alleges in his lawsuit that he was falsely and unlawfully arrested on Sept. 30, 2010, at about 4 in the morning, and charged with third-degree murder, aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter, homicide by vehicle, fleeing or attempting to elude police, accident involving death or injury, reckless driving and driving with a suspended license.

Woods was subsequently branded the “Nova Killer” in newspaper accounts and television news reports.

The plaintiff had been wrongfully blamed for the tragic death of a Villanova University student that stemmed from a traffic accident on the night that Woods was arrested, the lawsuit states.

The day after his arrest, Woods was cleared of all wrongdoing when the various charges against him were dropped.

The complaint, which was filed at the federal court in Philadelphia on Oct. 1 by Philadelphia attorney Holly C. Dobrosky, states that the defendants knew or should have known that Woods was not involved in the death of the college student whatsoever.

The defendants named in the lawsuit are Haverford Township Police Chief Carmen D. Pettine, Haverford Sgt. Daniel Wallower, Haverford Detective Jere Goodman, Haverford Police Officer Thomas McDermott, and Philadelphia Police Detective T. McCool.

As a result of the defendants’ conduct, the suit claims, Woods felt “afraid, defenseless, helpless, terrorized, and threatened; he was also embarrassed and humiliated for being labeled the ‘NOVA KILLER’ by various media outlets,” the lawsuit states.

The suit alleges that Woods continues to suffer great mental anguish, physical pain, depression, nervousness, humiliation, personality change and a loss of life’s enjoyment and pleasures.

The lawsuit contains various federal civil rights violations, as well as claims of false arrest and false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and malicious abuse of process of law, and both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

For each of the counts listed in the complaint, Woods seeks compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $250,000, plus attorney’s fees, costs and other relief.

Woods seeks a jury trial.


The federal case number is 2:12-cv-05608-PBT. 

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