When last we peeked in on the serene town of Colwyn, Pennsylvania, cops were tasing each other, the police department was being raided by county agents, and the mayor was, perhaps understandably, declaring a state of emergency. Now, the town features again because of a federal lawsuit filed — again, understandably — against a police officer who featured prominently in my last post, as well as several Colwyn officials.
Officer Trevor Parham was at the center of the May post because of allegations that he'd tased 17-year-old Da'Qwan Jackson while the teenager was handcuffed and confined in a holding cell. The lawsuit, however, raises new and interesting tales of woe.
According to the Delaware County Daily Times:
The lawsuit paints Trevor Parham as an out-of-control cop who wrongly arrested and persistently harassed a 64-year-old borough man and then had four officers who reported the alleged misuse of power either fired or disciplined.
Also named as defendants are the Borough of Colwyn, Police Chief Wendell Reed, Council President Tonette Pray and Sherri Bedford, administrative assistant for the borough.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of five plaintiffs—Colwyn resident Maurice J. Clark, Sr., former Colwyn Police Officers Kevin E. Banks Sr., Bryant K. Sterling, Clinton Craddock and Colwyn Police Lt. Wesley Seitz, seeks undisclosed monetary damages, attorney fees and other costs. The civil action cites violations of the plaintiffs' constitutional rights under the 4th and 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law and charges of assault and battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
The lawsuit also claims Bedford and Reed illegally collected workers compensation benefits while working for Colwyn.
The specific allegations in the lawsuit show what we might want to call a certain tell-tale pattern to Parham's behavior.
In the lawsuit, Clark claims Parham repeatedly harassed him and on July 19 arrested him after he complained to Bedford about his behavior.
"If you got to say something about me, then say it to my face," Parham allegedly said to Clark, who was sitting in his truck outside of borough hall after speaking to Bedford. "Get out of the (expletive) truck, you're under arrest."
Parham allegedly put Clark in a jail cell and handcuffed him to a metal chair, according to court documents.
"Do you want to fight me, do you want to fight me?" Parham allegedly said to Clark, as he pulled out his Taser and pressed its trigger, according to the lawsuit.
Clark spent about 90 minutes in custody before he was cited for disorderly conduct and released. He later was found to be not guilty of the charge.
Parham allegedly continued to harass Clark. On Nov. 8, he allegedly instructed Colwyn cops to arrest Clark anytime they saw him.
"If you see that old ass (expletive) lock him up, and I'll take care of the paperwork," the lawsuit alleges.
Banks, Sterling and Craddock were present when Parham gave the order to arrest Clark, the lawsuit claims. It also states when the three officers made it known that they would not participate in the arrest of Clark, they were fired or disciplined.
I should say that I'm pleased there were officers who told Parham to take a hike when he instructed them to engage in wildly abusive violations of a Clark's civil right. Then again, oh yeah, they were fired for their trouble.
The Philadelphia Inquirer adds that the suit also claims that Council President Tonette Pray "vowed that whoever leaked accounts of the Taser episode to reporters would be fired." The leaker turned out to be whistle-blower Lt. Wesley Seitz, the officer who reported the Da'Qwan Jackson matter to the mayor. He was, in fact, canned and is a plaintiff in this case.
Colwyn, Pennsylvania. Yet another town to add to the "no-go" list when planning your travels.