Federal civil rights suit filed against Colwyn police

Posted: June 29, 2012

There's more trouble for the Colwyn, Delaware County, police department.

Four Colwyn officers and a Darby man filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Thursday, alleging a pattern of police misconduct, including "improper charging and arrests,“ a coverup by supervisors, and retaliation against officers who tried to blow the whistle.

The suit names suspended deputy police Chief Wendell Reed and Cpl. Trevor Parham, who is facing charges for allegedly tasering a juvenile handcuffed in a holding cell in April. The suit also names as defendants the borough, Colwyn Council President Tonette Pray and Reed's administrative assistant, Sherri Bedford.

Maurice Clark, one of the plaintiffs, said that three days after witnessing a break-in at his neighbor's house last July, Parham came to tell him Bedford wanted to see him.

Bedford allegedly told Clark she needed him to fill out a statement about the burglary, but when Clark complained about how Parham approached him, Bedford became “rude and argumentative," the lawsuit said.

After Clark left the police department, Parham walked over to his pickup truck, handcuffed him and took him back to the police station, the lawsuit said.

Clark, who is 64 and has health problems, was placed in a holding cell and Parham secured one of his handcuffs to a metal chair, the lawsuit alleged. A few minutes later, Parham returned to Clark's cell, asked him if he wanted to fight and "pulled out his Taser and pressed the button trying to intimidate" Clark, the lawsuit said. Parham cited Clark for disorderly conduct and released him after 90 minutes.

The lawsuit said that for several months Parham attempted to "harass and intimidate" Clark, who filed two written complaints against Parham in November.

On Nov. 8, the lawsuit said Parham told several Colwyn police officers — including plaintiffs Kevin Banks, Bryant Sterling and Clinton Craddock — to "lock him up" if they saw Clark.

Clark was exonerated of disorderly conduct by a Delaware County Common Pleas judge in January.

Banks, Sterling and Craddock, and Lt. Wesley Seitz, another plaintiff, complained to Reed, Bedford and Pray about Parham's conduct.

Banks was terminated by Council in December and Sterling was suspended in January. After the tasing incident involving the juvenile was reported, Craddock, who was suspected of being the leaker, was suspended without pay in May, the lawsuit said.

Contact Michael Hinkelman at 215-854-2656 or hinkelm@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @MHinkelman.

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