CAMDEN – A Sicklerville man’s lawsuit claims he was “kidnapped” by Camden County Police officers who stopped his car on a city street, then held him for questioning about the identity of a robbery suspect.
Rasheen Percell contends officers repeatedly violated his civil rights during the roughly three-hour incident, causing him to now live “in complete fear of the police.”
“This is a meritless and baseless claim,” Camden County spokesman Dan Keashen said Monday. “The county hasn’t been served with this frivolous filing, but if and when it does it will move for its dismissal.”
According to the lawsuit, police in three patrol cars stopped Percell while he was driving to pick up his girlfriend at a Parkside beauty salon around 6 p.m. on Dec. 9, 2019.
The suit alleges officers initially claimed Percell had committed a traffic violation, which the motorist disputed. An officer then allegedly said police “were looking for someone by the name Rasheen Percell and were sent to arrest the individual driving (Percell’s) vehicle.
The officer also said “they were to bring the individual to the station for questioning,” the lawsuit claims.
It contends police “began searching and rummaging” through Percell’s pockets, taking his cellphone. They allegedly placed him handcuffed in a patrol car and extended the search to Percell’s vehicle, where they found a baseball bat in the trunk.
The bat belonged to Percell’s 11-year-old son, the lawsuit says.
It says Percell was taken to the Police Administration Building, where he sat handcuffed for 30 minutes before being questioned by two detectives. The detectives allegedly asked Percell if he knew the identity of a robbery suspect.
The suit describes Percell’s state of mind at the police station as “extremely upset and distressed and … fearful for his safety.”
It adds he was released after telling the detectives he “did not know what (they) were talking about and could not provide any information.”
“There was no justification for the actions of (police),” the suit argues.
It contends Percell had committed no crime and officers “had no warrant, reasonable suspicion, or probable cause to detain, arrest, or search (him).”
Among other claims, the suit asserts police have also violated Percell’s rights by continuing to keep his phone.
The suit, filed in Camden federal court on Nov. 2, names two officers, Thang Ngo and Alexander Wizbicki, as well as two “John Doe” detectives as defendants. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Jim Walsh covers public safety, economic development and other beats for the Courier-Post, Burlington County Times and The Daily Journal.
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This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: Rasheen Percell claims Camden County police violated his civil rights