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27 Mar, 2013 21:04

Businessman accuses Philadelphia cops of severely beating and robbing him

Businessman accuses Philadelphia cops of severely beating and robbing him

A 60-year-old Philadelphia businessman who was working in his shop late one night alleges that he was attacked by police officers, who proceeded to handcuff him, kick in his teeth and rob his store of $34,000 while claiming to search for “contraband”.

The officers were dressed in plainclothes and did not identify themselves or show their badges when they broke through the garage door of the auto-repair shop at which two men were working on the night of June 23, 2011.

Wayne Layre and Michael Tierney, co-owners of the shop, said the officers used a battering ram to break in – a cylindrical piece of equipment most often used by SWAT or rescue teams to force open doors. The five police officers then handcuffed Layre and two other men in the shop, forced them onto the ground and looted the store, while claiming to search for “money and contraband”.

One of the officers, Brian Reynolds, claimed to be an FBI agent and said he would shoot the men in the head if they didn’t tell him where the money and drugs were hidden, according to a complaint filed by Layre and Tierney.

Meanwhile, 60-year-old Layre was lying unconscious on the ground. He awoke after police officer Thomas Liciardello started kicking him in the face.

"While plaintiff Layre was lying on the floor of the auto shop and beginning to regain consciousness, defendant Officer Liciardello again demanded to know where the money and drugs were hidden,” the complaint states. “Defendant Officer Liciardello then kicked plaintiff Layre in the mouth, causing the front upper row of plaintiff Layer's teeth to separate from their roots and to bend back toward his throat. Subsequently, the entire upper room of plaintiff Layre's teeth had to be extracted by a dentist.”

The same officer allegedly kicked Layre twice in his genital region and also dislocated the old man’s finger. After injuring the victim, Liciardello held his gun to the man’s head and threatened to ‘blow his head off’, while calling him a ‘stinkin’ drug junkie’.

"When Plaintiff Layre, who was by then seriously injured, did not respond, defendant Officer Liciardello took one of plaintiff Layre's BB guns from the shop, loaded it, and shot the windshields of several of the vehicles on the premises,” the complaint continues. “Defendant Officer Liciardello then said, 'We'll keep going until one gets your attention.'"

The cops never found drugs in the store, but ransacked the shop of its money. After realizing that they had never obtained a warrant to search the place, they requested one at 4:10 a.m. the next morning, seven hours after they had broken in. The police also arrested Layre and brought him to the station. They refused to give him any sort of medical attention, even though he was covered in blood, his glasses were broken and his shirt had been torn off his body.

The cops allege that they found methamphetamines in the tailpipe of one of the cars parked outside the store – but Layre claims that he was uninvolved with those findings. But in order to obtain the warrant, the cops claimed that Layre was involved in the sale of meth to a third party that hid the drugs outside. The 60-year-old man spent weeks in prison, during which the plaintiffs claim that the officers looted his bank account and safety deposit box and stole more than $250,000 in legal earnings.

Now, Layre and Tierney are taking the officers to court for the damages they have done. Layre told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he hopes to recover the $400,000 that was seized from him and his shop after the June 2011 raid. He has filed a petition in the Common Please Court, denying that he has ever sold drugs and claiming his money was made through business investments.

District Attorney Seth Williams decided to drop the drug charges against Layre, without citing a reason – but the decision to do so may indicate that the district admits its officers did not conduct themselves properly.

In response to the lawsuit, District Attorney Spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson said the department has not yet come up with a response to the proceedings.

“We will review the petition and make the appropriate response after that review,” she told the Inquirer.