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Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Black Lawmaker Says Cops Abused Him

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A state lawmaker claims Philadelphia police officers "began yelling profanities, obscenities and making threats of physical harm" to him as he stopped to watch them "roughly frisking" an older man, who also is black. State Rep. Jewell Williams claims the officers took money from the older man's pockets and were letting it blow away, and abused him when he told bystanders to "leave the man's money alone."

Williams, a Democrat who represents the 197th District, sued the city and four police officers in Federal Court. When he tried to protect the older driver's money, Williams says, one officer told him to "Get back in your fucking car before I give you a bunch of tickets."

Jewell says he stopped his car due to watch police "roughly frisking" an older African American man named John Cornish, who is a co-plaintiff. Williams says the cops "removed United States paper currency which lawfully and rightfully belonged to Cornish from his pockets" and put the money "haphazardly and unprotected" on the trunk of Cornish's car.

When the money began blowing off the car and "attracting the attention of some bystanders," Williams says, he left his car and told the crowd to "leave the man's money alone."

That's when the cops cursed him, Williams says. He says that when he identified himself and asked to speak to a supervisor, he was handcuffed, arrested for "disorderly conduct" and "physically pushed" into a squad car, while the cops "used rude, profane and insulting language" to him.

Williams says he was not charged with any criminal offense and was released after being taken to jail.

He adds that "at no time did plaintiffs pose a threat of harm to the defendant officers or any other police officers or civilians."

Williams filed a complaint about the incident.

Williams, Cornish and Carl Cutler, a passenger in Cornish's car, seek damages for false arrest and constitutional violations. They are represented by Theodore Schaer with Zarwin, Baum, DeVito, Kaplan, Schaer and Toddy.

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