Sergeant sues police for false arrest

Posted: August 27, 2014

A Philadelphia police sergeant detained and later pulled from duty for trying to turn in handguns anonymously to police is now suing the department for false arrest and other alleged civil-rights violations.

Sgt. Brandon Ruff, an eight-year veteran assigned to Powelton's 16th District, claims he was detained for more than six hours and brutalized after he walked into the 35th District headquarters in Ogontz on Aug. 3 to surrender three guns, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

The guns were given to him by his cousin, who had bought them off the street "in a proactive attempt to stop violence," according to the complaint.

But instead of adhering to a "no-questions-asked" gun giveback policy Ruff believes existed, police supervisors instead confiscated Ruff's service weapon and assigned him to desk duty while Internal Affairs investigates, according to the lawsuit.

"He was acting as a private citizen. He went in to do what he believed was the right thing, and ultimately he got disciplined for it," said Michael Pileggi, his attorney.

Pileggi said he didn't know why Ruff didn't immediately identify himself as a police officer. He insisted Ruff did so after five to seven 35th district officers swarmed him when he left the district to make a telephone call.

Yet even after Ruff announced he was a cop, the officers held a Taser to his chest and threatened to shock him, shouted profanities at him, searched him, threw his phone at him and roughed him up enough that he sought hospital treatment the next day for sprained wrists and shoulders, according to the lawsuit.

Police reports described the incident differently. The reports said Ruff refused to answer questions or identify himself when he brought a 9 mm Taurus, a .38-caliber Taurus revolver, and a Bryco Arms .380 into the district in a maroon handbag.

Ruff, who also was carrying his own loaded Glock 23 on his hip, then tried to leave and began "cursing and yelling" at officers when they tried to stop him, the police report said.

Police sources later told the Daily News that one of the guns Ruff surrendered had been reported missing in 2010 from a South Philadelphia home.

The city does periodically hold gun giveback or buyback programs, in which anyone can hand in any firearms anonymously and the guns then get destroyed. But the department has no such blanket "no-questions-asked" policy for people surrendering guns to police outside of those scheduled events, a spokeswoman Officer Tanya Little said.


" @DanaDiFilippo

Blog: phillyconfidential.com

Morgan Zalot contributed.

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