A Philadelphia woman whose violent Wildwood beach arrest last year was caught in a viral video has sued two officers, a lieutenant, and the town in federal court in Camden, alleging that her civil rights were violated and that the officers falsely testified before a grand jury about the encounter.
Emily Weinman, 22, filed a 21-page complaint on Monday against Wildwood police Officers Thomas Cannon and Robert Jordan. The suit names Lt. Kenneth Gallagher as a defendant, as well as the city.
In an email Monday night, Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. declined to comment on the litigation.
Weinman was on the beach on Memorial Day weekend last year when she was approached by police patrolling the beach about some nearby unopened bottles of Twisted Tea. Another beachgoer recorded part of what followed, and the video went viral on social media and garnered national attention. The police released three redacted body-cam videos showing more of the encounter.
In February, Weinman pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct. More serious charges of aggravated assault of a police officer, resisting arrest, throwing bodily fluids, and obstruction were dropped. As part of the plea agreement, Weinman was banned from Wildwood for a year.
According to the suit, which was filed for Weinman by the Bonjean Law Group of Brooklyn, she was at the beach with her boyfriend, their 18-month-old daughter, and a female friend.
Shortly after 4 p.m., the two women were approached by Cannon and Jordan about the alcoholic beverages. Weinman, who was 20 at the time, said the bottles belonged to someone else and consented to a breathalyzer test, which showed she had not been drinking, according to the suit.
The police officers “continued to escalate the interaction” with Weinman “rather than just confiscating and disposing of the alcoholic beverages,” the complaint states.
In the redacted body-cam videos, Weinman is seen cursing and insulting the police. One officer declares: “That’s it. I’m done with you. You’re about to get dropped.”
In the viral video, Weinman was held down by two officers and appeared to be punched twice in the head. In the police video, she complains: “I’m a woman! You’re not allowed to hit me like that and choke me like that. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Troiano defended his officers last year. “This young lady attacked our officer,” he said.
The lawsuit contends the officers, to justify their use of force, exaggerated her level of resistance and falsely claimed that she spit toward one of the officers. They lied to a grand jury, according to the suit.
The complaint also alleges that the Wildwood Police Department uses force at a far higher rate than many other police departments in New Jersey.