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Businessman Describes Philly Cops as Thugs

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - Philadelphia police officers kicked in the teeth of a 60-year-old auto mechanic and robbed him of $34,000, the self-employed businessman claims in court.

Warren Layre and Michael Tierney, co-owners of the shop, sued Philadelphia and five of its police officers: Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Brian Speiser, Michael Spicer, and Lt. Robert Otto, in Federal Court.

Layre says in the complaint that he was doing business as usual in his shop on the night of June 23, 2011, when plainclothes officers broke through the garage door with a battering ram.

The officers, who did not identify themselves, handcuffed Layre and two other men - nonparties Thomas Basara and Brian Timer - forced them to the floor, and ransacked the shop, claiming to be looking for "money and contraband," according to the complaint.

"Officer Reynolds told plaintiff Layre that he was an FBI agent and he had been driving all day from a case in Virginia and that he was in a bad mood and that he would 'shoot you [Plaintiff Layre] in the head, myself,'" if Plaintiff Layre didn't tell him where the drugs and the money were hidden.," the complaint states. (Brackets in complaint.)

It continues: "Defendant Officer Liciardello then demanded to know from plaintiff Layre where all the money and drugs were hidden. When plaintiff Layre said that he didn't know what the officer was talking about, defendant Officer Liciardello struck plaintiff Layre on the back of the head with a steel pipe, which caused plaintiff Layre to lose consciousness.

"While plaintiff Layre was lying on the floor of the auto shop and beginning to regain consciousness, defendant Officer Liciardello again demanded to know where the money and drugs were hidden. Defendant Officer Liciardello then kicked plaintiff Layre in the mouth, causing the front upper row of plaintiff Layer's teeth to separate from their roots and to bend back toward his throat. Subsequently, the entire upper room of plaintiff Layre's teeth had to be extracted by a dentist.

"Defendant Officer Liciardello then kicked plaintiff Layre twice in the scrotum. The second kick dislocated plaintiff Layre's index finger.

"Defendant Officer Liciardello then placed his service firearm to the head of plaintiff Layre and said, 'This is a .40 caliber Glock and I will blow your head off with it, you stinkin' drug junkie, if you don't tell me where the money and drugs are.'

"When Plaintiff Layre, who was by then seriously injured, did not respond, defendant Officer Liciardello took one of plaintiff Layre's BB guns from the shop, loaded it, and shot the windshields of several of the vehicles on the premises. Defendant Officer Liciardello then said, 'We'll keep going until one gets your attention.'"

The police then took Layre to a police station, without giving him medical attention. "Layre's face and chest were bloodied, his shirt had been torn off and his glasses were shattered," according to the complaint.

The cops got a warrant to search the shop at 4:10 a.m. the next morning, about seven hours after they invaded it and beat the hell out of Layre, the mechanic says.

He claims that to secure the warrant Liciardello made several allegations he knew to be patently untrue: for instance, that Layre had sold methamphetamines to a third party and paid the third party $24,000 to deliver drugs to a girlfriend.

Liciardello claimed that methamphetamines were found stuffed in a tailpipe of one of the cars, according to the complaint. Layre claims a local man had asked him a day before the search if he could store some meth in the auto shop, and Layre told him no.

Layre claims the man, nonparty Anthony Axe, must have hid a bag of drugs in one of the cars anyway.

During or after the search and assault, the police made off with $34,400 the shop had earned selling scrap metal, and left garage left wide open when they took Layre away, leaving "numerous tools, parts and equipment on the sideway and parking apron," according to the complaint.

On July 13, 2011, while Layre was still in jail, officers returned to the auto shop and used hydraulic equipment to force open the trucks of many of the autos on the premises, Layre claims.

"During this search, the officers did extensive damage to the autos, antique autos, antique motorcycles, parts and inventory in the shop. The defendant officers knocked out the interior downspout necessary for the drainage of the roof, which later resulted in floods in the shop causing damage to the physical premises and its contents," the complaint states.

Not only that, but "Officer Liciardello spray painted his name on the shop wall," according to the complaint.

Then, the plaintiffs claim, the defendant officers looted Layre's bank account and safe deposit box, seizing more than $250,000 in direct and investment earnings, which Layre said were fully declared and documented in his tax returns over a 42-year period.

On July 14, 2011, the City of Philadelphia sealed and seized the auto shop and filed a petition for forfeiture of the property.

Layre and Tierney deny that they ever were involved in sale of illicit drugs.

They seek compensatory and punitive damages for unreasonable use of force, unlawful arrest, unlawful search and seizure, improper execution of a warrant, and malicious prosecution.

They are represented by Jay Feinschil.

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