Andrew Tornetta, the Montgomery County Eagles fan who was charged with punching a police horse at Lincoln Financial Field before the NFC championship game against the Minnesota Vikings, has filed a lawsuit against police and the team, claiming he did not strike the animal and alleging officers beat him for no reason.
In the suit filed Wednesday in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Tornetta said that as a result of the alleged beating, his “false” arrest, and demonization in the media, he has suffered “physical pain, discomfort, trauma, humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress, sleeplessness, anxiety, inability to perform simple activities of daily living, depression characterized by feelings of despair, hopelessness, and despondency. …”
The suit, which alleges assault and battery by the police, seeks damages in excess of $50,000.
The lawsuit says Tornetta, 20, of North Wales, was with other fans in a parking lot at the Linc for the Jan. 21 game when mounted police arrived to disperse the crowd.
Tornetta was moving with the crowd when “suddenly, without warning or notice,” State Police Trooper Wesley Van Wyk, who was on horseback, grabbed him by the collar and eventually pulled off his shirt, the suit says.
Other police, including mounted Philadelphia Officer Paul Tinneny, allegedly hit Tornetta’s head and face with batons. He was then forced to lie facedown in the parking lot to be handcuffed while bleeding from his wounds, according to the lawsuit.
Tornetta did not punch a police horse, the lawsuit says.
Besides the physical injuries, the suit says Tornetta was “demonized” in the news media and on social media “reporting upon his assault on police and his cruelty towards an animal.” Images and video of the incident went viral after the arrest (warning: video contains crude language).
Citing what it called contradictory video, the suit alleges the officers involved in Tornetta’s arrest lied about what happened, leading to his false imprisonment and defamation.
The Eagles are named as defendants for allegedly failing to supervise police who were acting on the team’s behalf.
Tornetta was placed in an accelerated misdemeanor program. Charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and failure to disperse were withdrawn March 6 after he completed 12 hours of community service and paid $222 in court fees.
Philadelphia and state police said they would not comment on pending legal action. The Eagles did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The incident was the second in a week in which an Eagles fan was charged with hitting a police horse at the Linc.
Taylor Hendricks, 23, was arrested in the Jan. 13 incident and has been placed in a yearlong accelerated rehabilitative disposition program that will allow him to avoid prison and have his charges expunged if he completes the program’s requirements.