News & Politics

Cops Beat Woman Holding a Toddler After Her Friend Videotaped Them

A federal lawsuit alleges that a Philadelphia police officer beat a woman, injured her toddler and arrested her and her friend in May 2011.

Police in Philadelphia.
Photo Credit: Zuzu/Wikimedia Commons

 

A Philadelphia police officer beat a woman, injured her toddler and arrested her and her friend in May 2011, a newly filed federal lawsuit alleges.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports that Angelique Gerald-Porter was near her home watching a violent arrest that her friend, Salimah Milton, was videotaping. After Gerald-Porter got off her steps, a police officer told her to get back. According to the lawsuit, she complied, but the officer, Ian Nance, told her to walk to the end of the block. Gerald-Porter refused since she lived steps away.

Then Nance said: “This is our property right now," and took Gerald-Porter to the ground. In the ensuing altercation, Nance allegedly punched her in the stomach, and dragged her down her steps by her hair. Her two-year-old son was pinned beneath her and was kicked, according to the lawsuit. Gerald-Porter “was bloodied, her clothes torn and she was nearly naked in the street, the suit says. Gerald-Porter and her son were both treated for injuries at Lankenau Hospital,” the Daily News reports.

While both Gerald-Porter and Milton were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, they were eventually released with the allegations against them dropped.

“If a citizen is not interfering with a police officer's ability to conduct an investigation and standing at a distance . . . [they're] able to videotape it. It should not be a problem,” Gerald-Porter’s attorney told the media outlet.

The lawsuit seeking $150,000 in damages charges that the police officer’s conduct violated Gerald-Porter’s First Amendment rights and the 1871 Civil Rights Act, which is used to redress a situation where a state authority violates constitutional rights. The lawsuit adds that the mayor and police commissioner of Philadelphia does not properly train officers how to avoid police brutality or discipline them in those case, particularly concerning Black residents of the city.

The officer named in the suit has been accused of physical abuse five times since 2008, but none of the complaints have been sustained.

The lawsuit comes about five months after a separate lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union charging that cops in the city were arresting people for videotaping arrests. The police chief in the city, Charles Ramsey, told his department that Philadelphia residents have the right to record officers in public after the Daily News first exposed the problem of the police arresting those who videotape their actions.

 

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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