A 36-year-old Philadelphia man recently filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court seeking punitive and compensatory damages after a judge overturned his 2002 conviction on felony drug charges. Through his attorney, the plaintiff alleged in a 41-page complaint that three police officers committed a federal crime by violating his civil rights. The plaintiff says that the three police officers made up things on the arrest records and then provided false testimony against him at his trail. The plaintiff was convicted of drug charges and served 13 years out of a possible 22 and a half year sentence, despite never having been found with drugs in his possession. He is alleging false arrest and malicious imprisonment, in addition to unjust incarceration.
The plaintiff's case was reviewed after it was revealed that several Philadelphia police officers had been falsifying testimony and otherwise providing fake evidence in other drug cases. In fact, one of the officers involved in the plaintiff's original arrest pleaded guilty early last year to robbing the home of a drug dealer of $15,000.
Among other claims the lawsuit also claims that the city of Philadelphia is to blame for what the plaintiff characterized as being slow to respond to the new revelations regarding his case and for not maintaining an adequate internal affairs division to ensure that disciplinary complaints were looked into and police officers refrained from doing harm to the city's citizens. In an ironic twist in the case, one of the former police officers responsible for the plaintiff's arrest and conviction is now cooperating in the investigation of other current and former police officers.
This case should serve as proof to others faced with similar situations: that justice may be delayed but there is always hope. All defendants have a right to a fair and thorough trial. They should also remember that despite being convicted in a criminal case defendants still have the right to appeal an unfavorable verdict.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Jailed for 13 years, man sues for wrongful arrest, imprisonment" Dana DiFillipo, Mar. 21, 2014