Police Abuse

'Highly Decorated' Field Training Officer Kicks Prostrate Suspect in the Head

The officer, who is an instructor at the police academy, has been the subject of previous lawsuits that led to payouts but no admissions of wrongdoing.


dashcam video

A robbery suspect has filed a lawsuit in federal court over a kick in the head he received from an Allentown, Pa. police officer while on all fours on the ground. Attorneys for Hector Medina-Pena, who is suing, got a hold of video as part of the discovery in his criminal trial. One attorney called the actions of the officer, Joseph Iannetta, "absolute aggression."

The city disagrees. "The actions of officer Iannetta have been thoroughly reviewed by command staff and the solicitor's office and found to be appropriate under the circumstances," Allentown's city solicitor, Susan Ellis Wild, told the Call. "We look forward to the evidence in this case demonstrating that his actions were appropriate."

In a statement to the Washington Post, Wild called Iannetta, who has worked for the department for 14 years, a "highly decorated" police academy instructor with "training far above and beyond the required training."

"Get your fucking hands up," an officer is heard screaming at Medina-Pena, followed by "get down on the fucking ground," and later, "get down on the ground or I'm going to fucking shoot you." Medina-Pena then dropped to the ground and got kicked in the head. Ianetta's kick broke Medina-Pena's jaw and sent him to the hospital for three days, according to the lawsuit, which also claims the officer kneed Medina-Pena in the back of the head, smashing his face into the road.

The lawsuit alleges city officials failed to properly train Iannetta and other officers and allowed misconduct to become part of the police department's customs and policies. According to the lawsuit, Iannetta was the subject of more than a dozen investigations related to violence in the last decade, and the subject of a 2013 federal lawsuit that the city settled in September for $350,000.

Medina-Pena was in an SUV that matched the description of a getaway vehicle in an armed robbery. He was seen on surveillance camera breaking mirrors in the bathroom of the establishment before it was robbed. According to the Call, the other three men were released when they said they didn't know anything. Medina-Pena's lawsuit claims police found no weapons or other contraband on him.

Watch a portion of the video below: