A controversial police officer whose Internet exploits led to him trading in
his patrol car for a desk is now being sued in federal court by a man who claims the officer beat and pepper sprayed him while he was handcuffed and defenseless.
Philadelphia resident Daren Devalia filed a civil complaint at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Nov. 20 against the City of Philadelphia and police officers Philip Nace and William C. Barr.
Nace made headlines recently after it was discovered that he was the cop in a video that had been uploaded to the video-sharing site Youtube in which two New Jersey men claim they were harassed simply for walking through a Philadelphia neighborhood.
After producing drivers’ licenses, the two victims in the video, whose faces were not shown, were told by Nace to “stay in New Jersey.”
Nace was later taken off the street and transferred to desk duty.
A subsequent video showed a man believed to be Nace knocking over a basketball hoop in another city neighborhood.
In last week’s complaint, Devalia, 26, alleges that he was assaulted by Nace and Barr, Nace’s partner, after the officers responded to a call of a domestic disturbance.
Devalia admits in his complaint that police were called after he took a tree branch and broke out the window of his girlfriend’s car.
Upon arrival, the two officers drew their weapons on Devalia, who was still holding the branch at the time.
The plaintiff initially looked as though he would run, but soon surrendered, the lawsuit states.
Nace and Barr then handcuffed Devalia to a fence on the property.
It was at this point that Nace, contrary to “established police directives,” pepper sprayed Devalia in the face from a short distance away “for no legitimate or justifiable reason,” and then struck the man multiple times with his retractable police baton, according to the complaint.
Devalia ended up suffering what the suit calls a severe laceration that took nine staples to close.
Barr is believed to have participated in striking the plaintiff and also didn’t do enough to intervene or prevent the attack perpetuated by Nace, the suit claims.
The police officers are accused of violating the plaintiff’s federal civil rights.
The City of Philadelphia is charged with failing to properly monitor city cops who are known to be suffering from emotional and/or psychological problems that impair their ability to function as police officers.
“Defendant City of Philadelphia is deliberately indifferent to the need to train, supervise and discipline police officers,” the lawsuit states.
And the department’s Internal Affairs Division, the suit claims, “fails to provide an internal disciplinary mechanism that imposes meaningful disciplinary and remedial actions” by providing “excessive and chronic delays in resolving disciplinary complaints.”
The complaint also accuses IAD of failing to effectively discipline officers who were found to have engaged in misconduct.
In addition to the federal civil rights claims against all of the defendants, there is a state law assault and battery claim against both Nace and Barr.
Devalia seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and other equitable and legal relief.
He is being represented by Jonathan J. James and Michael C. Schwartz of the Philadelphia firm James, Schwartz & Associates.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-06748-LDD.