A Philadelphia man has filed a civil rights complaint against Cheltenham Township police, saying they racially profiled him and charged him maliciously with a burglary that he reported in 2012.
In August 2012, Rasheed Waters of Philadelphia was watching his mother’s house in Elkins Park while she vacationed in Florida with her fiance. According to the complaint filed in federal court this week, the fiance passed away during the trip and his daughter removed a handgun, jewelry and cash from Waters’ mother’s home.
After notifying his mother that the woman had taken the possessions, Waters reported the burglary to Cheltenham police and told them who he suspected.
Two months later, Cheltenham police arrested Waters without vetting his claim that he was out grocery shopping at the time, according to the complaint. Waters’ attorney obtained surveillance camera footage from an Acme and CVS, which showed him shopping, according to the complaint. Waters sat in prison awaiting trial for 16 months.
Waters’ had faced criminal charges before and served for multiple counts of theft, carrying a gun without a license and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
In 2013, Montgomery County Judge Garrett Page dismissed the case after viewing the video evidence supporting Waters’ whereabouts and “he admonished defendants for bringing it forward,” according to the complaint.
Waters claims his Fourth and 14th Amendment rights were violated by shoddy police work. In a statement, his attorney Matthew Weisberg said he looks forward to asserting his client’s rights in federal court.
“We look forward to vigorously and zealously representing him in that litigation,” said Weisberg.
Cheltenham police face four counts in the civil complaint, including false arrest and false imprisonment. Chief John J. Norris responded to an interview request with “no comment,” and mentioned that Waters had filed similar claims against the department in 2013.