A woman who says she was illegally detained after calling Pittsburgh Police over someone illegally parked in Greenfield land she owns filed a federal complaint on Wednesday alleging retaliation and excessive force.
Marsha Simonds and her husband, Matthew, sued the city of Pittsburgh, as well as the individual agents who responded to the Murray Avenue scene on August 27, 2019. Among them, Adam Thimons, Francesco Rosato, Elizabeth Merkel and Donald Pasquerelli.
The lawsuit also names as defendants Judicial District Judge James J. Hanley Jr. and an employee of his office, Christine Boyer, as well as Allegheny County.
A message sent to Pittsburgh Police was not immediately returned. Angharad Stock, deputy chief administrator of the district court, said she could not comment on the pending litigation.
The complaint alleges that Hanley and Boyer used their relationship with the Pittsburgh Police Department to harass and intimidate the Simonds family “in a manner designed to punish them and take away their constitutional rights.”
According to Simonds, her family bought the parking lot in the 4700 block of Murray Avenue in 2016. Early on, she said, they ran into issues with the folks in Hanley’s office parking there illegally.
The county rents an office in a building on Murray Avenue for Hanley’s office, and Hanley’s entrance encroaches on the Simonds lot.
After years of civil court battles over space, Simonds obtained an order on August 22, 2019, allowing Hanley’s office to rent two spaces there, but also allowing Simonds to call the police if anyone illegally parked there. .
Five days after the order was issued, a city employee parked at a place not designated for the magistrate. Simonds said she asked him to move out, but he refused.
She walked into Hanley’s office with a copy of the court order, but said Boyer immediately motioned for her to leave and yelled at him.
The two women called 911.
Simonds complained about the illegally parked car. Boyer said Simonds was yelling at him and was not allowed to be there.
When the Pittsburgh officers arrived, they forcibly handcuffed Simonds to the hood of her car, then put her in a patrol car and held her there for several minutes.
In the end, she was released but charged with two counts of misconduct. On June 7, the charges against Simonds were dismissed.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants acted under cover of the law “to intimidate Ms. Simonds and her family by using the threat of criminal prosecution”. He also accuses Hanley of using his relationship as a magistrate to influence the police to arrest Simonds, and said Hanley personally approved the plan to quote Simonds even though he had not witnessed the incident in the lobby.
The federal prosecution also accuses Boyer of making false statements when calling 911 – including that Simonds was screaming and she and was still inside the lobby although video surveillance showed she was already gone – “in order to have Simonds arrested”, the lawsuit mentioned.
In the lawsuit, Simonds said Hanley’s family owed her mother $ 20,000 for a personal matter, which was only paid after a lawsuit was threatened.
“The events that followed were designed to retaliate against the complainants and their families,” the complaint states.
Other allegations in the prosecution include conspiracy to obstruct justice, bodily harm, negligent imposition of emotional distress and malicious prosecution.
He also alleges a “custom and practice” of police misconduct against the city, accusing officers of “using false information to support or justify illegal police tactics aimed at suppressing Ms. Simonds’ rights.”
Paula Reed Ward is the editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Paula by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .