Five Philadelphia police officers who were acquitted in a federal corruption case are suing top city officials for defamation.
The civil suit — filed against the city, its mayor, district attorney and police commissioner — claims they destroyed the officers’ reputations.
The suit cites Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who called the the allegations against the narcotics squad officers “one of the worst corruption cases that I have ever heard.”
Federal prosecutors alleged that the squad members routinely roughed up and robbed drug dealers, planted evidence, then covered it up through false police reports.
Witnesses at their trail said the officers acted like street thugs, beating and robbing drug dealers, even hanging one uncooperative victim over an 18-floor balcony to shake him down for information.
Last year, Mayor Michael Nutter called the officers “sick scumbags.”
But, earlier this month, a jury cleared the five plaintiffs and another officer of every charge in the 26-count indictment.
Their attorney, Christopher Mannix, said even though his clients were acquitted, city officials are still piling on.
“You get statements coming from certain district attorneys, or assistants in the office, that not guilty verdict doesn’t mean innocence. These are things that they’ll never, ever get over,” Mannix said.
In the suit, Mannix wrote that the federal case against his clients was shown to be “literally laughable,” adding that there wasn’t even a “scintilla of evidence” for the indictment.
Mannix said he clients are seeking unspecified monetary damages and hoping to get their names cleared.
He called out Commissioner Ramsey’s comments in particular.
“So for him not to apologize after in his heart of heart he knows at best he was sold a bill of goods by the U.S. Attorney … he knows there was no evidence,” Mannix said.
The officers won their jobs back in arbitration and were awarded a year of back pay. The officers have been reassigned to districts, instead of returning to the elite narcotics squad.
Still, as a result of the scandal, hundreds of convictions have been thrown out.
The city is also still is facing 150 lawsuits stemming from questions about the officers’ behavior. District Attorney Seth Williams has declined in recent years to prosecute possible new cases arising from the officers’ work with the narcotics squad. Mannix said that decision is one reason why Williams is named in the suit.
None of the officials named in the suit would comment for this story.