Detainee sues City of Phila., police officers for excessive force, dragging him through feces

By Jon Campisi | Oct 8, 2013

A man who claims he was beaten and dragged through human excrement

A man who claims he was beaten and dragged through human excrement

while being held as a pre-trial detainee in a Philadelphia Police Department holding cell two years ago has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the City of Philadelphia and two of its police officers.

Jesus Soberal filed suit in U.S. District Court on Oct. 7 against the municipality and the two John Doe police officers over an alleged Oct. 6, 2011, incident in which the plaintiff says he was physically assaulted by the defendants.

The complaint alleges that Soberal was being held pending trial in a jail cell at the 24th District police station when he slipped and fell on dirty water that had overflowed from the cell’s toilet.

The lawsuit states that after the plaintiff began loudly complaining about the condition of the jail cell, the two officers entered the cell and subjected Soberal to excessive force.

The officers repeatedly struck and kicked the plaintiff in the face, head and back, before handcuffing him and deliberately dragging him through the feces and urine that had accumulated on the cell’s floor due to the overflowing toilet.

“The plaintiff was already incarcerated, was lying on the floor, was not resisting arrest or posing any threat to any person, and the force that was used against him was excessive, unnecessary and unreasonable under the circumstances,” the complaint reads.

The incident caused Soberal to sustain injuries such as a chipped tooth, cervical intervertebral disc syndrome, dysfunction of the thoracic spine, headache and muscle spasms, the suit states.

Soberal claims he has had to spend close to $13,000 on medical bills, not including the dental work to have the chipped tooth fixed, with that bill still pending.

He also claims to have suffered from agonizing aches and pains, mental anguish and humiliation.

The identities of the police officers are not known at this time, the suit says.

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

The complaint contains additional counts of excessive force, bystander liability and conspiracy.

The city in particular faces a Monell claim, with the plaintiff alleging that a municipal custom, policy and/or practice has led to police officers routinely mistreating detainees.

The city is accuses of failing to properly train, supervise and/or discipline its police officers.

Soberal seeks unspecified compensatory damages along with interest, costs, attorney’s fees and other relief.

The lawsuit was filed at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Philadelphia attorney Alan E. Denenberg of the firm Abramson & Denenberg P.C.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-05886-GP.

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