A Center City barber is suing the city and five controversial cops, claiming they arrested him without cause and stole cash, guns and a diamond ring from tenants at a West Philadelphia rowhome he owns.
Kenneth Mills, 45, claims the officers falsified information on search warrants to enter his barbershop on 10th near Spruce and his rental property on Cedar Avenue near the Cobbs Creek Parkway on Nov. 3, 2011, according to a federal civil-rights complaint filed this morning. Named in the suit are Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, John Speiser and Stephen Dmytryk.
The cops found no contraband at Mills’ barbershop, according to the complaint. They did find a gun and marijuana in one man’s bedroom and another gun in a a woman’s bedroom at his rental property; but both rooms were occupied by tenants, including a disabled U.S. Army soldier whose gun was legally registered. That soldier had a diamond ring and $6,000 in cash she got in FEMA relief for a storm-ruined property, and both were confiscated during the search and never returned, according to the lawsuit.
Mills was charged with drug and weapon offenses, but the District Attorney’s Office withdrew charges last February.
Mills’ suit joins a growing pile of federal lawsuits and police Internal Affairs complaints filed against the officers, who repeatedly have been accused of fabricating evidence, planting drugs, stealing money and using excessive force.
Mills’ attorney Michael Pileggi figures he’s filed about a dozen such lawsuits against the group. The officers have been moved out of narcotics but still work for the Police Department.
That irks Pileggi, who accused police bigwigs of “deliberate indifference,” given that citizens have complained about the group since 2002. The FBI, City Solicitor’s Office and police Internal Affairs all have investigated them, and federal and city prosecutors have refused to call them as witnesses in drug cases, Pileggi added.
“The history of these officers’ unlawful conduct is a black eye on an otherwise dedicated, professional and excellent group of police officers in Philadelphia,” Pileggi said.
Lt. John Stanford, a police spokesman, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but the police department typically doesn’t comment on lawsuits.