Temple Police officers sued for alleged assault, wrongful arrest

The alleged assault of a 17-year-old occurred in April 2016 outside the former Pearl Theater.

A 17-year-old alleges four current and former Temple Police officers assaulted and wrongfully arrested him in April 2016, according to court documents.

The 17-year-old and his mother Melinda Clark, who is listed in the documents, are suing the four officers and the university for assault, battery and wrongful arrest, according to the civil complaint that was filed on Feb. 14, 2018.

The family, represented by Michael Gallagher of MyPhillyLawyer, is seeking a payment of $50,000 in addition to compensation legal fees, interest, costs and punitive damages. The four officers’ names are Andrew Lanetti, Anthony Sherman, Natalie Decoatsworth and Omair Chutgai, according to the complaint.

“Temple is aware of the complaint and intends to defend the matter vigorously,” wrote university spokesperson Brandon Lausch in a statement to The Temple News.

Gallagher said the family’s chances of winning the lawsuit are good. Despite several attempts, the family could not be reached for comment.

“We have a meritorious case,” Gallagher added. “Discovery will hash things out.”

On April 15, 2016, the 17-year-old, who was 15 at the time, was arrested by the four Temple Police officers for disorderly conduct.

He claims he was inside the former Pearl on Broad and Oxford streets with his younger brother when the officers entered the building and told everyone to leave “in an aggressive manner, using aggressive words,” according to the complaint.

The 17-year-old and others left the theater and waited outside. Lanetti allegedly told those outside to leave or they would be arrested. The minor allegedly told officers he had to wait and find his younger brother.

According to the complaint, the four officers “forcefully assaulted” the minor by “twisting and pulling” his left arm behind his back and “throwing him to the ground.” He was taken to Temple University Hospital following the alleged assault.

During the assault. the 17-year-old fractured his elbow, which required he have surgery and pins placed in his arm.

Following the arrest, the 17-year-old allegedly suffered from post-traumatic anxiety, limitation of motion, severe headaches and emotional distress, which are “believed to be permanent.” These injuries allegedly forced the family to seek expensive medical care, like medication and surgery.

Sherman resigned from Temple Police in June 2016, and Chugtai later resigned in December. DeCoatsworth and Lanetti are both still Temple Police officers.

Because the officers were employed by the university at the time of the arrest, the family is claiming the university is liable for the alleged “negligence and carelessness” of the four officers.

The Temple News requested the incident report of the April 2016 arrest from Temple Police, but was denied.

Gallagher said Temple Police’s incident report does not “jive” with the allegations in the complaint.

“Everybody has a different story,” he added.

Leone said he could not comment on the April 2016 arrest due to pending litigation.

This type of lawsuit will go through Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Trial Division Civil section’s Major Jury Program, which handles cases seeking at least a $50,000 settlement amount. Temple has not filed any court documents since Gallagher’s initial complaint filing last month.

Gallagher said the minor’s injuries warrant this settlement amount.

“It appears that one or more officers crossed the line here,” he added.

Depending on how this lawsuit is classified, the trial could last anywhere from 13 to 25 months.

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