PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A police department put one of its officers in handcuffs for allegedly associating with a criminal, but the officer says the relationship in question was with her husband who has never been convicted of a crime.
Tonya Newbill-Jones says the Philadelphia Police Department's real problem is that she is a black woman. In her federal complaint, she says the department regulation that bars officers from associating with known criminals is overly broad, selectively enforced and unconstitutional.
The complaint states that police pulled Newbill-Jones over, pointed a loaded gun at her and seized her car. Officers then "handcuffed the plaintiff's hands behind her back, placed plaintiff in the back of a police vehicle" and drove to her home, she claims.
Once there, for all her neighbors to see, the police left Newbill-Jones handcuffed in the back of a squad car for over three hours, she claims.
Newbill-Jones says her home and car have now become the subject of a police forfeiture action that has been unreasonably delayed. The department also removed Newbill-Jones from her detective beat, according to the complaint.
Fraternization between cops and criminals "does not cause a disruption of City business," according to the complaint. The officer demands an injunction barring its enforcement.
Newbill-Jones' attorney, Brian Puricelli, declined to discuss particulars but told Courthouse News that there are more examples of the rule being used selectively.
"I don't try to litigate my cases in the press," Puricelli said.
An attorney for the city could not be reached for comment. Philadelphia Police Department spokesman Lt. Ray Evers said he "can't comment on an open investigation."
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