Two cops, City of Phila. named in false arrest, excessive force claim by South Philly man

By Jon Campisi | Dec 16, 2013

A Philadelphia man who says his rough treatment by city cops caused him

to expend more than $13,000 on medical treatment has filed a civil action against the city and the two officers who allegedly caused him injury.

Darryl Atwood, who resides in South Philadelphia, filed suit on Dec. 12 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the City of Philadelphia and two John Doe police officers whose true identities aren’t known at this time.

The plaintiff maintains he did nothing wrong when he was stopped by the law enforcement officers in mid-December 2011 at about 3:15 in the morning on Washington Avenue between 19th and 20th Streets, his lawsuit states.

Nevertheless, the officers stopped Atwood and falsely accused him of attempting to steal a vehicle in the area, the suit claims.

At no point did Atwood, who had “not attempted to steal anything, and was factually innocent of any crime,” attempt to resist arrest, pose a threat to the defendants, or do “anything that would justify the use of force against him,” the complaint states.

The first officer, however, ran up to the plaintiff, punched him in the face, and then threw him up against a vehicle, while driving his knee into Atwood’s back, thereby aggravating pre-existing back injuries from which the plaintiff suffered, the lawsuit says.

The officers never officially charged Atwood with a crime, but they nevertheless forced the man to remain handcuffed in the back of a police vehicle for a period of about 30 minutes, the complaint reads.

In addition to his physical injuries, the plaintiff alleges he suffered anxiety, fear, mental anguish, humiliation and a loss of liberty.

As for his body, Atwood claims he suffered the aggravation of a prior disc protrusion, post-traumatic cephalgia, and strain and sprain injuries to the thoracic spine, lumbar spine and right wrist.

Atwood was forced to spend a total of $13,712 on hospital testing and other medical care relating to his physical injuries, the record shows.

The defendants are accused of Fourth Amendment violations, including excessive force, unreasonable seizure, false arrest and false imprisonment.

The complaint contains a Monell claim against the City of Philadelphia, accusing officials of adopting and maintaining a practice or custom of permitting municipal police officers to “systematically” verbally and physically abuse individuals, and “falsely arresting minority suspects, and subjecting them to the same type of treatment to which plaintiff was subjected.”

Atwood seeks unspecified compensatory damages, as well as costs, attorney’s fees and other relief.

The complaint was filed by Philadelphia attorney Alan E. Denenberg.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-07262-GP. 

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