Couple accuses Darby police department of brutality, civil rights violations

By Jim Boyle | May 22, 2014

A husband and wife have filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, claiming that members of the Darby police department severely beat them prior to taking them into custody on charges that were later dropped.

The couple, Njolah and Deddah Karmo, seek at least $150,000 in compensatory damages and another $150,000 in punitive damages from the department, the officers involved with the incident, and Darby Borough itself, saying the actions violated their constitutional rights, particularly their 14th amendment right to due process and equal protection under the law.

According to the complaint, Njolah was attending a graduation party in Darby on July 21, 2012 when officers arrived in response to noise complaints. Four officers approached Njolah, assuming he was the homeowner. The claim says that Njolah attempted to correct the officers and show them where the actual homeowner was, but the police detained him and demanded identification. Njolah refused to comply, the complaint says, because he felt he had done nothing illegal to justify the request.

In response, the officers pushed Njolah up against the side of the house and began punching him in the stomach and face, according to the court documents. The officers allegedly put Njolah in a headlock and pushed him to the ground, then continued investigating the party.

According to the complaint, Njolah staggered to the master bedroom to clean himself up, followed by his wife, Deddah. The officers confronted Njolah again, pulled him and his wife from the bedroom and began assaulting both of them, the claim says.

The couple was taken to University of Pennsylvania hospital for their injuries before getting charged with a litany of counts, including robbery, theft, assault and conspiracy. Most of the charges were dropped for lack of evidence, and a jury found Njolah not guilty for simple assault and resisting arrest.

The plaintiffs are represented by Michael Molloy.

The federal case ID number is 2:14-cv-02797-JCJ.

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