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Ex-Pennsylvania couple accuses police of false arrest

A married couple who used to live in western Pennsylvania who were arrested on criminal charges but prevailed at trial have filed a lawsuit against the city of Beaver Falls and its police department for false arrest and malicious prosecution. They say that the police took the side of the couple's neighbors, with whom they got into a fight, and made the arrests based on the neighbors' dubious claims against them.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the wife in the plaintiff couple began to suspect that drugs were being sold out of a neighbor's house. She contacted the Beaver Falls police chief, who advised her to write down the license plates of cars that parked in front of the house. She began keeping track, but the neighbors somehow found out about her monitoring.

The neighbor approached the woman's husband and warned him that he should get his wife to stop. The discussion became heated and the two began fighting, injuring each other.

When police arrived, the neighbors claimed that the plaintiffs had started the fight and used a gun a pipe and a shoe against them. The couple were arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault among other charges.

It is not clear if officers ever found any gun or pipe in the plaintiffs' possession. But when the case went to trail each spouse was found not guilty. The couple has since moved out of Pennsylvania.

They have filed a lawsuit against the city of Beaver Falls, the Beaver Falls Police Department and the neighbors for false arrest, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and abuse of process. They are seeking actual and punitive damages, presumably to punish the city for irresponsible police work.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Couple claim false arrest in lawsuit against Beaver Falls," Rich Lord, Dec. 18, 2012

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