Squashed arrest prompts excessive-force lawsuit

Posted: March 28, 2014

A MAN WHOSE squashed arrest sparked a municipal-corruption probe has sued the city, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and the officers who subdued him, claiming two beat him until he was "nearly unconscious" and wounded him so badly that he required "several dozen" stitches.

Rodney Handy Jr., now 24, says police used excessive force, racially profiled him and retaliated against him when he questioned why they stopped him on March 19, 2012, as he parked his car outside his Oak Lane home after work.

Officers Shane Darden and Timothy Taylor beat him with their fists, feet and flashlights, used racial slurs and used a stun gun on him as he lay on the ground, according to the federal lawsuit filed March 11. The officers had been investigating a report of gunfire when they stopped Handy.

Handy "was an innocent, nonviolent victim of Philadelphia police officers gone out of control," attorney David B. Sherman said.

Lt. John Stanford, a police spokesman, declined to comment.

Handy's complaint barely mentions that the incident sparked a scandal - and a grand-jury investigation - after Inspector Aaron Horne, who oversaw the Northwest Police Division at the time, ordered the officers to erase the arrest as a favor to Handy's grandfather, Arthur Woody, a retired police captain.

The officers and their commander, Capt. John McCloskey, were told to destroy all paperwork and remove it from the police computer system - a violation of police policies. Horne and McCloskey both were disciplined for the incident, which the Daily News first reported in July 2012.

The grand jury has also explored Horne's alleged ties to area drug dealers and his controversial role in the fall 2012 arrest of an officer's son in a police-involved shooting, sources say.

In his lawsuit, Handy claims the Police Department allows racism and excessive force to thrive by failing to properly train officers and discipline violators.

He seeks unspecified damages for persisting neurological damage and ongoing "[post-traumatic stress disorder]-type symptoms."

"He was a young college kid, doing his best, believing in the system, and this rocked his world on many levels," Sherman said.

Darden also injured his back and shoulder during the incident and spent two months on injured-on-duty status.

On Twitter: @DanaDiFilippo

Blog: phillyconfidential.com

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