A Philadelphia man has initiated an assault and battery complaint against two city police officers over allegations that they unlawfully arrested him following an incident at a local gas station that started when the plaintiff was refused a refund for gas that he was unable to pump into his vehicle, and ended with the man’s legally carried firearm being lifted by a passerby during the police encounter.
Attorneys Michael C. Schwartz and Jonathan J. James, of James, Schwartz & Associates, filed the civil action Nov. 13 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Raheem Fitch.
The two defendants named in the case are Police Officer Ryan Ryzinski and another cop who is only identified by his last name, Mintzer.
According to the complaint, Fitch, a 26-year-old man with no prior criminal record, stopped at the Sunoco station 2634 N. Broad St. in Philadelphia at about 4 a.m. on July 1 of this year in an effort to get gas for his vehicle.
After pre-paying for his gas, Fitch attempted to activate the pump, the suit states, but it would not work, after which Fitch reentered the store and asked for his money back.
An argument allegedly ensued when the store worker refused to give the plaintiff his money back.
The police were called, and the two defendant officers arrived at the scene.
The plaintiff advised the officers that he had a valid License to Carry Firearms and that he had a sidearm on his person at the time.
The cops removed the weapon, the holster and an extra magazine Fitch had been carrying at the time, the suit states.
After the plaintiff explained the situation with regard to the refund for the gas he was seeking, the defendants told Fitch they could do nothing to help him out, and then proceeded to leave the scene, at which point Fitch inquired about his firearm and other items.
The officers told Fitch they had placed everything on the passenger seat in Fitch’s vehicle.
Fitch returned to his car only to discover that the gun was missing, according to the complaint.
Fitch then went inside the store and attempted to call 911 to report a missing firearm, at which time the two defendant officers returned to the gas station and confronted Fitch, who told the cops his firearm was missing and that they should have returned the gun to him directly so this type of thing wouldn’t happen.
The officers soon got aggressive with Fitch and ordered him to get in his vehicle and leave the scene, the suit says, at which time the officers began to investigate the missing weapon, which was soon discovered to be in the possession of a woman who had been in the area of the gas station at the time of the encounter.
The woman was promptly arrested for theft.
It was at this point that the officers re-approached Fitch and told him he was being placed under arrest because he had been drinking, something the plaintiff denied.
All the while, Fitch complained that the handcuffs had been placed on his wrists too tightly, and that he was experiencing pain and lightheadedness because of the situation.
Fitch ended up being charged with disorderly conduct and public drunkenness, although the charges were later dropped in criminal court for lack of prosecution, the complaint shows.
After Fitch was released from police custody, he had returned to the Sunoco station only to discover that his vehicle, which hadn’t been properly secured by police, had items missing from it, the suit claims.
The complaint alleges that Fitch continues to suffer from nerve damage to his wrists because of the tight handcuffs.
It also states that Fitch has never had his firearm returned to him, and that his carry license was revoked, and his Act 235 card, or armed security certification paperwork, has never been returned to him.
The lawsuit contains counts of assault and battery, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Fitch seeks compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $50,000, plus other court relief.
A jury trial has also been demanded.
The case ID number is 121101219.