An Iraq War veteran is suing the city of Philadelphia, claiming he was roughed up by police and illegally detained for taking a cellphone video during the confrontation.
The alleged incident happened Easter Sunday on 13th Street near Rodman in Center City, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday in federal district court. The complaint was filed on behalf of Roderick King, an Air Force veteran from Lansdale, and Thomas Stenberg, Sara Tice and Brian Jackson, all of Philadelphia.
The suit claims the four friends were walking on 13th Street about 2 a.m. March 31 when they saw a Philadelphia police officer in a marked SUV driving erratically. Stenberg yelled at the officer about making an illegal turn, prompting the cop to pull over and confront Stenberg, the complaint says.
King, Tice and Jackson all pulled out their cellphones and began recording the confrontation, according to the complaint. The video, which was posted to YouTube, shows the officer approach King, who raises his hands above his head. The officer yells "Don't fing touch me" as King keeps his hands raised while still recording. The officer knocks the phone out of King's hand, grabs King by his shirt and throws him against the SUV before handcuffing him and putting him in the back seat.
According to the complaint, the officer told King he was under arrest for public intoxication and drove him to a dark location in North Philadelphia. The officer then drove King back to where his friends were standing and released him without explanation.
King's attorney, Kevin Mincey, said the alleged incident was akin to kidnapping, adding that King feared he would be beaten.
"We view it as part of the policy of stop-and-frisk -- the officers thinking they have the right to stop folks whenever they want to and they can justify it later," Mincey said.
Mayor Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. Yet, he disagreed that officers abuse stop-and-frisk.
"They're not trained for that and that's not what they do," McDonald said of the allegations.
The complaint seeks more than $1 million in damages.
After the Daily News reported in 2011 that police were confiscating or destroying cellphones people were using to film arrests, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey issued a memo affirming a citizen's right to do so.
The American Civil Liberties Union then sued the city and department in January, claiming that officers continue to harass people who film arrests despite Ramsey's memo.