Civil rights complaint accuses Chester, Pa. police officer of racial profiling

By Jon Campisi | Jun 28, 2013

A Delaware County man is suing a Chester City police officer on behalf of himself and his

A Delaware County man is suing a Chester City police officer on behalf of himself and his

young daughter over an incident that occurred last summer involving a wrongful detainment of the plaintiff.

Media, Pa. lawyer Kenneth Mark Sexton filed a civil action June 25 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Chester resident Kenneth Taylor-Norwood and his minor child, Ta-Miyah Taylor-Norwood, over claims that the plaintiff had his civil rights violated on Aug. 1 of last year when he was briefly held by Chester Police Officer James Fiore simply because of the color of his skin.

Fiore, the complaint states, had been searching for a suspected drug dealer at about the same time that Taylor-Norwood took his daughter to a local water ice shop for a cold treat.

The plaintiff, who was 25 years old at the time, is black, but does not resemble the drug dealer for whom Fiore was searching, according to the complaint.

Nevertheless, Fiore ended up detaining the plaintiff while the toddler child “looked on in fright,” the suit states.

By that time, a Pennsylvania state trooper showed up at the scene and informed Fiore that the plaintiff was not the man police were looking for.

The trooper then instructed the defendant to let Taylor-Norwood go free, the suit says.

It was at that point that the plaintiff requested Fiore’s badge number, presumably to make a complaint, but the defendant refused the request, leading Taylor-Norwood to say he “had something” for Fiore, which the defendant apparently took as a threat.

Fiore then arrested Taylor-Norwood, charging him with terroristic threats, harassment and disorderly conduct, with the plaintiff ultimately pleading guilty to the disorderly conduct summary offense, the record shows.

The lawsuit says that the guilty plea, however, does not excuse Fiore’s prior misconduct in detaining the plaintiff on the basis of racial prejudice.

“Defendant had no probable cause or reasonable suspicion to detain plaintiff,” the complaint reads. “Defendant detained plaintiff due to racial prejudice – plaintiff was the only African American in the vicinity, so in defendant’s mind, plaintiff had to be the suspected wrongdoer.”

The lawsuit accuses Fiore of violating the plaintiff’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from bodily searches and seizures.

Taylor-Norwood claims that both he and his daughter suffered embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and damage to his reputation as a result of the ordeal.

The complaint also contains a count of false imprisonment.

Taylor-Norwood seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, in addition to interest and costs.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-03661-TJS.

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