A Philadelphia man whose drug conviction was reversed after he spent 13 years in prison is suing the city and the three officers whose lies landed him behind bars.
Kareem Torain, 36, filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court this morning against the city, ex-cop Jeffrey Walker and cops Brian Reynolds and Brian Monaghan, alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution and unjust incarceration.
Torain was arrested in January 2001 in North Philadelphia — even though officers didn't see him with drugs and found no narcotics on him — after the officers fabricated information on police paperwork and lied at trial, attorney Michael Pileggi said. Torain was convicted in May 2002 and sentenced in September 2003 to 12 1/2 to 22 1/2 years in prison. Torain's conviction was reversed in February. He's seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
The suit is just the latest in a string of lawsuits and overturned convictions tied to tainted narcotics officers. Philadelphia courts have dismissed hundreds of drug arrests made by the officers, who have faced dozens of lawsuits alleging they routinely framed suspects with phony testimony and evidence.
Walker, a 24-year police veteran who worked in the Narcotics Field Unit since March 1999, pleaded guilty in February to various charges for stealing $15,000 from a drug dealer's home last spring. Walker's attorney has said he's now cooperating with federal investigators probing other narcotics officers, many of whom (including Reynolds) have been pulled from street duty or reassigned.
Torain's suit accuses the city of "systemic deficiencies and deliberate indifference to the danger or harm to citizens," claiming chronic delays in resolving disciplinary complaints and ineffective internal investigations and discipline.
"Police officers ... believe that they can violate the rights of citizens with impunity, including the use of fraud and falsehood," Pileggi wrote in the 41-page complaint.