Philadelphia Police can't fully escape lawsuit brought by man wrongly accused of being the Kensington Strangler, rape

By Charmaine Little | Aug 15, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has both granted and denied the city of Philadelphia’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit from a man acquitted on attempted rape charges.

Justice Jerry Pappert wrote the opinion in the case of Noel Quintana, also known as Christopher Sandle, who filed malicious prosecution and conspiracy claims action against the city, the Philadelphia Police Department, the district attorney’s office, officers, assistant district attorneys and detectives after he was prosecuted and found not guilty for attempted rape.

For the malicious prosecution claim, Quintana had the burden of proving five factors: the defendant started a criminal proceeding, that the proceeding resulted in his favor, that that the defendant was malicious and performed actions with intentions other than bringing justice, and that he didn’t have liberty that aligned with the idea of “seizure as a consequence of the legal proceeding,” according to the opinion. 

The court determined detectives motivated the victim to identify that Quintana was her attacker and her identification is what led to him being arrested. Because of this, the court upheld these claims against the detectives but dismissed those against other defendants as Quintana didn’t sufficiently prove their actions prompted his arrest.

The court also dismissed the conspiracy claim with prejudice. It ruled Quintana didn’t prove there was an actual agreement between the defendants to carry out a plot against him. It pointed out that conspiracy claims have to go beyond speculation and even suspicion. It also noted his clams for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress are blocked by the state’s statute of limitations of two years and that Quintana was arrested in 2010.

Quintana, who was said to fit the description for the attacker, was on foot when he was stopped by officers about 15 minutes after a man attempted to sexually assault a woman at knife point. The woman identified Quintana as her attacker after detectives showed her his driver’s license. 

Police later said Quintana was the ''Kensington Strangler,'' a perpetrator who had performed several similar acts and three murders in the area. Quintana was later arrested but allegedly was told he was only going in for questioning. While the police asked Quintana about the crimes from the Kensington Strangler, they never asked him about the assault regarding the woman. 

Quintana insisted the defendants were fully aware they hadn’t arrested the real Kensington Strangler, but justified the arrest by accusing him of assaulting the woman. He was arrested for the assault under the Sandle alias. He was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, attempted rape by forcible compulsion, attempted sexual assault, unlawful restraint/serious bodily injury, possession of instrument of crime, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and false imprisonment. 

Quintana said he was also charged for the three Kensington Strangler murders even though it wasn’t mentioned on his docket.

The attempted murder charge was dismissed for lack of evidence before another man was identified as the Kensington Strangler through DNA testing. Quintana responded with the lawsuit alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. 

After a back-and-forth of motions to dismiss and filing a second and third amended complaint, Quintana withdrew the claims against the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. He then accused the city of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and additional individual officers and detectives of conspiracy and malicious prosecution.

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