PHILADELPHIA – A Chester County 12-year-old with autism was a victim of a gang attack but was later charged with disturbing the peace for swearing, says a recent lawsuit filed against Pennsylvania State Police officers in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The plaintiff, John Doe, filed July 24 suit against Police Commissioner Robert Evanchick, Troop J Commanding Officer Capt. Bruce W. Williams, Crime Unit Supervisor Cpl. Robert S. Kirby and Trooper Ryan McKeon on July 24 over allegations of civil rights violations in 42 U.S.C. section 1983, his First Amendment freedom of expression rights, as well as retaliation under the First Amendment, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
Last December, the plaintiff alleges he was attacked at school by other students and sustained multiple injuries, including a broken nose and concussion. He alleges he was later charged with disturbing the peace for allegedly using foul language while being attacked.
In January, the suit states McKeon issued a summons against the plaintiff. When the plaintiff's counsel asked for the video and other materials of evidence, Kirby allegedly refused and said he didn’t know what the counsel for the plaintiff was talking about.
During the examination at trial, the suit states it was revealed that McKeon didn’t actually see the incident and also didn’t speak to anyone who did prior to ordering the summons against the plaintiff. When it came to him refusing to provide the video, he allegedly said the plaintiff “should get it somewhere else” and added, “plaintiff is not the victim, here,” according to the lawsuit. The plaintiff was found not guilty.
“Defendants’ conduct resulted in a child being charged with a crime and forced to stand trial for allegedly cursing during the course of a beating," the suit states. "And to make matters worse, as explained in more detail here, not only did defendants charge plaintiff without any chance of prevailing at trial, they did so while in possession of, and while attempting to conceal from counsel, a video fully exculpating plaintiff of engaging any improper conduct at all. It is time for this to stop.”
The plaintiff seeks punitive and compensatory damages, court costs and attorney's fees. He is represented by the Weiser Law Firm in Berwyn.
U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case number 2:19-cv-03270