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Philadelphia police captain says her boss attacked her

Capt. Laverne Vann, who is black, had previously sued the supervisor she said assaulted her, Chief Inspector Anthony Boyle, who is white.

In this Feb. 27, 2013, file photo, a car drives past the Philadelphia Police Department's headquarters building, which opened in 1963 and is known as the Roundhouse, at Seventh and Race Streets.
In this Feb. 27, 2013, file photo, a car drives past the Philadelphia Police Department's headquarters building, which opened in 1963 and is known as the Roundhouse, at Seventh and Race Streets.Read moreMatt Rourke / AP, file

A Philadelphia police captain who is suing the department for alleged racial discrimination has accused a supervisor named in the suit, Chief Inspector Anthony Boyle, of physically attacking her Wednesday night while she made an arrest.

Capt. Laverne Vann, in a complaint filed Thursday, said that Boyle confronted her as she was handcuffing a suspect on drug charges.

Vann, who is black, said Boyle, who is white, grabbed her arm, twisted it behind her back, and attempted to push her to the ground, Vann said.

Other people at the scene inside a North Philadelphia police facility pulled Boyle off of Vann, the criminal complaint said. Vann was taken to the hospital, where she made an injury report. She later was released. A police spokesperson, Capt. Sekou N. Kinebrew, said the Internal Affairs Division was "actively investigating the incident."

Boyle could not be immediately reached for comment.

Vann is among four African American current and former officers who filed suit  in federal court last year, charging they had been the target of racial discrimination. In addition to Boyle and the city, the suit named Inspector Raymond Evers as a defendant. Boyle and Evers are accused of engaging in racial discrimination and of encouraging narcotics officers to falsify arrest reports in drug cases.

Vann's criminal complaint states that Boyle's "attack was also to intimidate" her because of her lawsuit. Vann's attorney, Brian Mildenberg, said that it was "absolutely outrageous that a chief inspector would ever lay hands on a subordinate female police officer."

He said Vann was "requesting that Chief Inspector Boyle is removed from his position and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

"My client will take all actions needed to bring these matters before the appropriate state and federal authorities," Mildenberg said.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, spokesperson Kinebrew, described what happened Wednesday night.

He said that at about 10 p.m. while inside a confidential police facility used for narcotics investigations, a disagreement erupted between Boyle, 65, a 42-year department veteran, and Vann, 53, a 29-year veteran.

"While engaged in this long-term and intensive narcotics operation that was going on last night, the two engaged in a disagreement over the propriety of arresting someone. During that disagreement, the allegation is that Chief Inspector Boyle physically assaulted Capt. Vann," he said.

"At some point Chief Boyle grabbed Capt. Vann by the arm and twisted the arm and caused Capt. Vann to fall to the ground. Again, that's the best I can summarize it. This was witnessed by several other people, some of whom have been interviewed, others who have not been," he said, noting that there were both police and civilian witnesses.

He said Boyle and Vann have not been interviewed.

Boyle has been moved to desk duty while the incident is investigated, Kinebrew said. Vann remains on full duty.

"We take allegations of any type of misconduct very seriously," Kinebrew said. "We have strong policies on harassment or any type of unsafe conditions in the workplace. Everyone should be entitled to and have the feeling that when you come to work you'll go home in the same condition you left in without harassment, certainly without anything physically happening to you particularly at the hands of a coworker, or in this case a supervisor."

He noted the while Boyle is Vann's superior, he is not her direct supervisor.

There is no department policy forbidding an employee and a supervisor from working together if the employee has filed a lawsuit against the supervisor, Kinebrew said.

"The mere initiation of a lawsuit doesn't necessarily trigger someone being moved," he said.

He said the investigation will look into whether Boyle's actions were the result of retaliation for Vann's lawsuit.