Plaintiff claims his arrest by Philly cops was related to being 'white' in a 'black' neighborhood

By Jon Campisi | Mar 11, 2013

Two Philadelphia police officers are accused in a new civil filing of stopping a white man who was passing through a predominantly African American neighborhood and subsequently arresting him after an argument ensued.

The civil rights complaint filed at the federal courthouse on March 8 alleges that two city cops, identified only as Police Officer John Doe #1 and Police Officer John Doe #2, stopped Shawn Matteson, who resides in the city’s Port Richmond neighborhood, in North Philadelphia on March 11, 2011, and questioned him about his intended destination.

At the time, the officers told Matteson that “’no white people live in this area,’ implying that the plaintiff’s race caused defendant’s to suspect that he was committing a crime,” the lawsuit states.

A brief argument followed the aforementioned statement, after which the officers grabbed the plaintiff by the wrist, twisted his arm back up behind his head, slammed Matteson onto the police car and placed him under arrest, the complaint states.

“The defendant placed the plaintiff under arrest and applied handcuffs extremely tightly to the plaintiff’s wrists, while intentionally, maliciously and/or recklessly using force that was neither reasonable nor necessary,” the lawsuit states.

Matteson claims that the handcuffs were placed on him so tightly that circulation was cut off to his wrists, causing him much pain and suffering.

The plaintiff also alleges that the encounter caused him to sustain a torn rotator cuff and associated sprain and strain injuries to his right shoulder, which has resulted in chronic pain, numbness and tingling in his right upper extremity.

Matteson also reportedly suffered from abrasions and contusions to the face and chest, as well as lacerations, contusions and radicular symptoms to the wrists.

The plaintiff’s injuries caused him to have to spend more than $6,000 in medical costs, the suit states; mental anguish and humiliation were also experienced, according to the lawsuit, which was filed by Philadelphia attorney Thomas Bruno, II, of the firm Abramson & Denenberg.

The lawsuit accuses the police officers of using excessive force and of violating the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

The suit also contains a Monell claim as well as a conspiracy count against the two officers.

The City of Philadelphia is also named as a defendant.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-01263-LDD. 

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