Suit: Wrongful arrest cost Gulf War vet security guard job

By Jim Boyle | Jul 16, 2014

A former security guard says that a wrongful arrest by two Philadelphia police officers and three weeks of incarceration cost him a new job, according to a suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

James Taylor, of Philadelphia, seeks compensatory and punitive damages against the officers and the City of Philadelphia over five counts, including assault, violating his fifth and fourteenth amendment rights, and gross negligence for failing to properly train and monitor the officers' conduct.

According to the complaint, Taylor, a 14-year Army vet who served in the first Gulf War, stopped at a corner deli near 60th and Locust streets on July 15, 2012, following his shift. Taylor claims that he carried a fully licensed and legal firearm and pulled his clothing over the gun so nobody would become alarmed.

However, upon exiting the store, two Philadelphia police officers, Clifford Gilliam and Shawn Witherspoon, forcefully stopped Taylor, who showed two documents that proved he lawfully carried the firearm, according to the complaint.

Gilliam and Witherspoon arrested Taylor anyway, allegedly slamming his face into a brick wall and twisting his right arm back before putting on handcuffs. Taylor was taken to the nearest station and subsequently spent three weeks behind bars, costing him a newly acquired job as a security officer.

Taylor says that his Florida gun license and an Act 235 card which authorizes security personnel to carry guns provided plenty of evidence that he legally carried the firearm, but the district attorney refused to drop charges. In May 2013, Taylor was found not guilty of all charges.

The plaintiff says that the 10 month ordeal forced him to suffer emotional and physical distress, injuring his self-image and self-respect. As a result, Taylor has been unable to eat or sleep properly and gets strong feelings of paranoia when he sees an image of a police officer.

Taylor is represented by Philadelphia attorney Glen Morris.

The federal case ID number is 2:14-cv-04256-LFR.

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