Suit: Cops Broke Down Man’s Door, Beat Him While Looking for His Brother
A Philadelphia man has filed a federal lawsuit against the police department claiming that the Internal Affairs division routinely ignores allegations of wrongdoing by officers.
Luis Gelpi filed the suit this week. His complaint stems from a May 2013 incident in which he says a group of officers raided his home while looking for his brother, Juan. The family had endured and, according to the suit, cooperated during several days of inquiry from officers before the raid.
The officers came to his house on May 8th, Gelpi’s attorney, Brian Humble, writes in the complaint.
“On this occasion, Mr. Gelpi, demanded that the Police Officers named herein produce a warrant, or go away and stop harassing his family and disrupting his life. In response, one of the Defendant Officers ordered Mr. Gelpi to ‘open the fucking door,’” the complaint alleges. “Mr. Gelpi justifiably demanded that the individually named defendants produce a warrant. Rather than obtaining and/or showing a warrant, the Defendant Officers broke the front door and forcibly entered the Gelpi home.”
Gelpi, who according to the suit had his right arm in a full cast at the time, alleges he was thrown to the floor where one officer allegedly hit him in the head, face, and back and twisted his injured arm, while other officers searched his home. Eventually, the complaint alleges, one of the officers announced, “oh it’s not him.”
“After being released, Mr. Gelpi … warned that he was going to report the incident,” the complaint states. “In response, (one officer) smiled and stated to Mr. Gelpi: ‘That’s why you got your ass beat.”
Gelpi said he reported the incident to the department’s Internal Affairs division, but never heard back from investigators there.
Humble claims that police “acted on a custom, policy and/or practice of unchecked and unmonitored discretion, and impunity with regard to use of police power and tactics involving warrants, searches, seizures arrests and investigations.”
As for Internal Affairs, he adds that City Hall “knew or should have known that the Internal Affairs routinely and systematically facilitates the violation of Constitutional Rights and police misconduct by failing to properly investigate allegations similar to as alleged herein, and the Defendant Police Office.”
The suit seeks more than $150,000 in damages. Only one officer, William Redanauer, is directly named in the suit. A “Redanauer” with the same badge number was also among police defendants in a separate 2013 civil case alleging that a “warrant unit” had raided a house — where the suspect being sought did not live — and held the father at gunpoint before realizing the error. The department settled that case in December 2013 for $45,000, according to court records.
Police spokespersons declined today to discuss the Gelpi suit, saying the department does not comment on pending litigation. See the full complaint below.
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