Jury awards more than $1M to driver for improper arrest

Kareem Alleyne had charges dismissed in 2014.

A Philadelphia jury awarded a Germantown man more than $1 million Wednesday after it agreed that he was improperly arrested and recklessly charged in a car-bike crash that killed a police officer in 2012.

Kareem Alleyne, 38, sat stunned as the verdict was announced, letting out a deep breath afterward and saying simply, "I'm in shock."

Alleyne, a former bank teller, was charged four years ago with vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Officer Marc Brady, 35, in a collision outside the home of a woman with whom both men had relationships.

A judge dismissed the charges in 2014 for lack of evidence. Alleyne then sued three homicide investigators who probed the crash - Lt. Philip Riehl and Detectives James Pitts and George Pirrone - claiming their investigation was flawed because they were eager to implicate him and minimize blame on their deceased colleague.

Two of the officers - Riehl and Pirrone - denied those allegations in testimony during the eight-day trial. All three left the courtroom without commenting Wednesday afternoon.

Their attorneys, Brock Atkins and Armando Brigandi of the city's Law Department, also declined to comment.

James Funt, who represented Alleyne, said he was grateful for the outcome, which came four years after his client's arrest.

"I can't imagine how difficult this has been for Kareem," Funt said. "The jury gave him his good name back."

Funt and colleagues Lori Mach and Noah Cohen made clear during the trial that there was no argument that Alleyne had struck and killed Brady with his car on July 15, 2012, outside the East Mount Airy home of Romara Glenn, Alleyne's girlfriend at the time and the mother of six of Brady's children.

But the attorneys argued that investigators were too quick to conclude that Alleyne intentionally ran over Brady - and said the officers purposefully downplayed or overlooked Internal Affairs files detailing Brady's previous stalking and harassing of Alleyne, because those files could have suggested their colleague was at fault for the crash.

"Marc Brady was a man with nothing else to lose, spiraling out of control, and they knew it," Funt said during closing arguments Tuesday. "They knew Kareem Alleyne was an innocent, innocent man."

Alleyne has struggled to find steady employment since being charged, even after his acquittal in the criminal trial, his lawyers told the jury. An online search for his name yields scores of old news clips showing that he killed a police officer.

"His name means something to him," Funt said, adding that the pain is made worse because one of his sons, Kareem Jr., will have to live with it as well.

The officers who testified during trial and their attorneys sought to point out that information about Brady's past was included with the evidence they gave to the District Attorney's Office - and that prosecutors decided to move forward with charges anyway.

Riehl testified that he did not think Alleyne should have been charged, and that he told prosecutors as much at the time. Nothing, Riehl said, was done to minimize damning evidence against Brady, whom he described on the stand as "a ticking time bomb."

"Everything we did was pro-Alleyne," Riehl said.

The jury of nine women and three men evidently disagreed. Riehl, Pirrone, and Pitts were each found liable for malicious prosecution, and Riehl and Pirrone were found liable for false arrest.

Alleyne was awarded $336,000 for harm to his reputation, $330,000 for economic losses, $318,750 for emotional and mental anguish, and $45,500 for legal expenses.

The award is not unusual among lawsuits filed against Philadelphia police. Since 2008, at least six cases involving police-involved shootings have been settled in the city for $1 million or more.

Still, Alleyne - who studied electrical circuitry books at times in the courtroom - said the verdict could help him begin to move forward.

"It's a start," he said. "It's definitely a start."

cpalmer@phillynews.com215-854-2817

@cs_palmer

Staff writer Mark Fazlollah contributed to this article.

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