Philly narcotics cops face civil rights complaint by victim of drug raid on auto shop

By Jon Campisi | Jun 27, 2013

A Philadelphia man has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the City of

Philadelphia and five of its police officers, claiming he was wrongfully arrested during a drug raid at an acquaintance’s auto shop that allegedly included brutal acts of violence against the plaintiff and others who were at the business at the time.

Thomas Basara claims that he was taken into custody during a raid by a handful of plainclothes officers on June 23, 2011, at Warren Layre’s auto shop on the 500 block of West Sedgwick Street in Philadelphia.

Layre and a man identified as Brian Timer were also inside the business when police assigned to a narcotics unit used a battering ram to break through the garage office door and allegedly conduct a warrantless search, states the complaint, which was filed by Basara’s lawyer, Jay Feinschil, on June 24 in federal court.

The officers, who entered with guns drawn and never identified themselves as cops, then asked the three men “where the drugs and money were hidden,” the complaint reads.

When the plaintiff and the other two men said they had no idea what the officers were talking about, one of the defendants, identified as Officer Thomas Liciardello, allegedly struck Layre on the back of the head with a steel pipe, knocking him unconscious.

After Layre began to regain consciousness, Liciardello again demanded to know where the cash and contraband was stashed, at which point the officer allegedly kicked Layre in the mouth so hard that the business owner’s front upper row of teeth separated from their roots, and eventually required extraction from his dentist, the complaint states.

Liciardello also twice kicked Layre in the groin and dislocated Layre’s index finger, the suit claims.

It was at this point that Liciardello allegedly removed his service pistol from its holster, placed it against Layre’s head, and said the following: “This is a .40 caliber Glock and I will blow your head off with it, you stinkin’ drug junkie, if you don’t tell me where the money and drugs are,” according to the civil action.

The officer then took a BB gun from the shop, loaded it and shot out the windshields of several of the vehicles on the premises, the suit claims.

Basara, the plaintiff, claims the other officers also beat and kicked him, knocking out two of Basara’s teeth and causing injuries to his ribs and back during the encounter.

Meanwhile, the suit claims that the officers who ransacked the auto shop obtained a warrant to search the premises, but not until seven hours after they busted their way in.

Liciardello wrote in his search warrant application that he had obtained about 24 grams of methamphetamine and $24,000 in cash from a man identified as James McIntyre during a prior search in the city’s Roxborough section.

McIntyre, Basara’s co-defendant in an underlying criminal case, allegedly told the officers that he had bought the drugs from Warren Layre.

The civil action, however, claims this to be false.

The suit goes on to state that $41,000 in cash taken off of Layre during the auto shop raid had been money legitimately earned by Layre, with the plaintiff’s assistance, from the sale of scrap metal.

Basara claims that the officers unlawfully kept $34,400 of unreported cash for themselves.

The other officers named as defendants in the suit are Brian Reynolds, Brian Speiser, Michael Spicer and Lt. Robert Otto.

The defendants are accused of violating Basara’s civil rights.

The suit contains counts of unreasonable use of force, unlawful arrest, unlawful search and seizure, malicious prosecution, and municipal liability.

The plaintiff seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs.

A jury trial has been demanded.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-03583-JCJ.

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