COLON v. PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT 26TH DISTRICT et al
MEMORANDUM. SIGNED BY HONORABLE MARY A. MCLAUGHLIN ON 8/20/2014. 8/20/2014 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE, E-MAILED.(jmg, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
DEPARTMENT 26TH DISTRICT,
August 20, 2014
The plaintiff, William Colon, was arrested for
disorderly conduct on March 5, 2009.
He claims in this lawsuit
that he was arrested without probable cause and with excessive
He is suing the Philadelphia Police Department and
Officer Francis McAnulty.1
The Court conducted a bench trial by
The Court finds for the defendant and against
Findings of Fact
On March 5, 2009, at approximately 10:45 to 11:00 p.m.,
the plaintiff was standing outside a Chinese restaurant at 8th
Detective John Lichtner was a defendant but at the
trial the plaintiff conceded that the detective was not involved
in his arrest. Lichtner is, therefore, dismissed. Officer Cruz
was not named as a defendant in the case. The plaintiff
explained at trial that he did not name him because he did not
know his name –- it was not on the paperwork. But, it was then
too late to name another defendant.
Street & Lehigh Avenue, with his father and with a friend, who
was waiting for the bus.
Officers Mark Cruz and Francis
McAnulty, who, at that time, had been on the Philadelphia Police
Force for approximately two years, observed the three men on the
The officers were working an overtime shift to make
quality of life stops and an arrest when warranted.
A quality of
life stop involves any activity that is a nuisance to the
citizens living in the area.
The police officers thought that
the three men were talking loudly.
The officers did not observe
whether or not there was a bus stop at the corner.
The officers saw the men and then cruised around for
fifteen minutes and returned to the spot.
still on the corner.
The three men were
The officers got out of their car and
approached the three men.
three men to disperse.
One or both of the officers told the
Colon turned and walked quickly into the
Chinese restaurant to get the food he had ordered earlier.
followed him into the restaurant and McAnulty stayed outside with
the other two people.
Cruz demanded ID from Colon.
I don’t have to give you my ID.”
Cruz responded: “Fuck
At this point, the
interaction between Colon and Cruz became heated and physical,
resulting in Cruz pushing Colon, who fell over a bench in the
McAnulty heard a commotion in the restaurant and
McAnulty also had a confrontation with the
The plaintiff was attempting to get up from the floor
at this point.
McAnulty did not know what had occurred between
the plaintiff and Cruz before he came in.
what happened at this point.
It is not at all clear
As best the Court can determine,
the plaintiff and Cruz were still interacting in a physical way
and McAnulty admits to doing a straight arm takedown of Colon and
taking him to the ground.
during the arrest.
Colon suffered an injury to his arm
The officers placed the handcuffs around his
wrists, restricting the blood flow to his right hand.
He had a
tingling feeling from his elbow down and numbness between his
He was handcuffed for about twenty minutes
Colon was arrested for disorderly conduct for failing
to disperse and transported to two police stations by McAnulty
and Cruz, where he was detained and spent the night.
was released on bail, he went on his own accord to the Temple
University Hospital, where, according to his medical records, he
was diagnosed with “hand pain.”
The hospital put his arm in a
splint and an arm sling, which Colon kept on for about four
Colon did not return to the hospital because he could not
afford the follow-up.
Currently, his arm still hurts, especially
when he plays sports.
It has also impaired his ability to grasp
The charges against Colon stemming from this incident
Conclusions of Law
The plaintiff claims that his arrest was without
probable cause and the officers used excessive force in the
To determine whether probable cause existed, the Court
must consider whether the facts and circumstances available to
the defendant would warrant a prudent officer in believing that
the plaintiff had committed or was committing a crime.
With respect to the excessive force claim, the issue is
whether the amount of force the defendant used was the amount
which is a reasonable officer would have used in making the
arrest under similar circumstances.
The Court must consider all
the relevant facts and circumstances leading up to the time of
the arrest that the defendant reasonably believed to be true at
the time of the arrest.
One difficulty for the plaintiff is that he did not sue
In evaluating the case against Officer McAnulty,
the Court must look only to his conduct and what he knew at the
time of the incident.
The Court also is mindful that the
plaintiff had the burden of proving by a preponderance of the
evidence that he was arrested for disorderly conduct without
probable cause and that excessive force was used in that arrest.
The Court has concerns about the conduct of the police
that lead to this incident.
It appears that the police got out
of their car and approached three men who were talking loudly on
a street corner in front of an open Chinese restaurant and near a
One of the three men was waiting for a bus.
two lived nearby.
One of the other two, who was the plaintiff,
had ordered Chinese food and was waiting to go in and get his
The police came up to them and ordered them to disperse.
The plaintiff has a good point when he argues that,
indeed, he did disperse –- he went into the Chinese restaurant.
Officer Cruz, for whatever reason, followed him into the Chinese
restaurant and asked for his identification.
It is not clear to
the Court why Officer Cruz did this.
The order was for the
people to move away from the corner.
There was no allegation of
any other conduct by the defendants at all, let alone anything
Officer Cruz went into the Chinese restaurant after the
plaintiff and demanded his ID.
A heated exchange took place and
as a result of the physical altercation between Cruz and Colon,
Colon ended up falling over a bench in the restaurant.
McAnulty came into the Chinese restaurant in the midst of this
McAnulty did not know what had happened before he came
All he saw was apparent physical contact between his partner
Although the Court does not find credible McAnulty’s
testimony that Colon “charged” at him multiple times, the Court
also does not find credible the plaintiff’s testimony that Cruz,
for no reason, pushed him over the bench and McAnulty “joined in
Because the plaintiff has the burden of proof,
the Court must find for the defendant.
By the time Colon was arrested, there was probable
cause for disorderly conduct.
As to the excessive force claim,
the Court cannot find by a preponderance of the evidence that
McAnulty used excessive force.
An appropriate order shall issue.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?