City of Phila., cops face civil rights claim by man alleging unlawful arrest

By Jon Campisi | Aug 14, 2013

A Philadelphia man has filed a civil rights complaint against the city and a

number of police officers over claims that he was unlawfully arrested and abused by the lawmen.

Kevyn Thomas is suing the City of Philadelphia along with Officers Vincent Visco, John Martin and Officer Reid, no last name given.

Also named as defendants are 25 John and Jane Doe police officers whose identities are presently unknown to plaintiff’s counsel.

The lawsuit alleges that the cops prepared and filed misleading police paperwork in the aftermath of the arrest of the plaintiff, which occurred in late August 2011.

Thomas, the complaint states, was driving his vehicle in the area of the 5700 block of North 11th Street in Philadelphia when he was pulled over by Visco and Martin.

The two went on to ask the plaintiff whether or not he had weapons in the vehicle, to which Thomas replied that he didn’t, although the complaint does state that Thomas admitted to having been in possession of a valid License to Carry Firearms.

The officers then conducted an unconstitutional search of the plaintiff’s vehicle, which produced no results, the lawsuit states.

Nevertheless, the two officers ordered Thomas out of his car, and when the plaintiff inquired as why he was being detained, Visco and Martin “aggressively and forcefully” removed the plaintiff from the vehicle, the suit states.

At one point during the encounter, the complaint alleges, one officer who had responded to the scene shot Thomas with a Taser gun, an action that caused the plaintiff to sustain puncture wounds, bruising, pain and “extreme discomfort.”

Thomas ended up having to be taken to the hospital that night for treatment.

The record shows that Thomas was initially charged with resisting arrest, possession of an instrument of crime, recklessly endangering another person, and driving under the influence of alcohol.

The complaint accuses the officers of filing police paperwork that misrepresented the events that led to Thomas’s arrest.

“This police paperwork was completed in order to achieve the false arrest and malicious prosecution of Mr. Thomas, as well as to fabricate a version of events that would protect the Defendant Officers from professional consequences, potential criminal prosecution, and/or civil liability,” the complaint reads. “These misrepresentations were intentional, malicious, reckless, wanton and in bad faith and deliberately indifferent and recklessly indifferent to Mr. Thomas’ rights.”

Subsequent testing revealed that Thomas had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of his arrest; the DUI charge was later withdrawn by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

Furthermore, Thomas was acquitted of the remaining criminal charges during a March 2012 trial.

A summary citation for a broken taillight had previously been dismissed on Oct. 27, 2011, the record shows.

Thomas accuses the officers and the city of violating his federal constitutional rights.

The complaint contains counts of excessive force, battery, assault, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment, unjustified search, malicious prosecution, conspiracy, and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The City of Philadelphia is accused of covering up improper and illegal police activity and failing to intervene against other officers’ illegal conduct.

“It was the policy and/or custom of the City of Philadelphia to fail to sufficiently supervise against, train and/or re-train against, and discipline against illegal police activity …,” the suit states.

Thomas seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and costs.

The plaintiff is being represented by attorney Lloyd Long, III, of Philadelphia’s Krasner, Hughes & Long, who filed the complaint on Aug. 12 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04664-TON.

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