Retired cop files complaint against Philly cops

Posted: February 04, 2016

KEVIN BOOKER figures it was around 11:30 at night when someone started pounding on his front door, late enough to make him a little nervous.

When he swung open the door to his Logan home on Jan. 8, no one was there. Booker shrugged it off, trudged back to bed, and went to sleep.

An hour later, the pounding resumed. This time it was loud enough to wake his neighbors.

Booker, 54, a retired Philadelphia police officer, grabbed his .380-caliber handgun and headed for the door again.

"I said, 'Who is it?' and I heard someone say, 'Police, open up!' " he said.

He placed his gun on a banister and opened the door.

There, two police officers accused Booker of using two phony $10 bills to pay a delivery driver for a cheesesteak and pizza that Booker insisted he never ordered.

During the ensuing back-and-forth, Booker claims, the officers forced their way into his house, handcuffed him, and threatened to haul him off to jail.

But they eventually left, after realizing that Booker hadn't ordered any food or dished out any counterfeit bills. Internal Affairs is investigating the incident, and Booker is vowing to sue the Police Department.

"This is the kind of thing that makes it harder for people to trust the police," Booker told the Daily News. "And it makes people like me angry. I used to be a police officer."

Booker said a delivery driver from Sorrento's Pizza, on Olney Avenue near Ogontz, stood near his house on Ashdale Street near Belfield Avenue while one of the officers questioned Booker about the supposed transaction.

"He said, 'Look, if you don't give [the driver] his $20, I'm taking you to Northwest Detectives,' " Booker said. "I didn't order any food. I asked the delivery guy, 'Are you sure you came to this house?' He just pointed at my address number and then at his phone."

Booker said he told the cops to check the phone number on the delivery slip, certain that it wouldn't match his.

They didn't go for it.

Booker claims that one of the officers forcibly entered his house, threw him to the floor, handcuffed him, and punched him in the back of the head. The other cop rifled through his trash, recycling bin, and refrigerator, perhaps hoping to find traces of the takeout meal.

"I said, 'I used to be a police officer,' and the one officer said, 'I don't care. It doesn't matter. You probably got fired anyway,' " Booker said.

Booker spent nine years on the police force, retiring in 2000 because of a knee injury he said he sustained in a fall.

The cops pulled off the cuffs and left. Booker said he tracked down the delivery driver, who apologized for the confusing ordeal. The driver explained that someone had used Booker's address to order the food, then paid him with the phony bills at the curb and took off.

Booker said he filed a complaint with Internal Affairs and was interviewed by a detective. He also hired the prominent civil rights attorney David Rudovsky.

"Once we have the results of the investigation, we'll make a further determination on how to proceed," Rudovsky said.

"I think they need to be fired," Booker said of the two cops. "They didn't do their jobs properly. They violated me."

Lt. John Stanford, a police spokesman, said the officers are on active duty while the Internal Affairs investigation plays out.

gambacd@phillynews.com

215-854-5994

On Twitter: @dgambacorta

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