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City of Philadelphia Moves to Settle Hundreds of Police Misconduct Lawsuits

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Philadelphia, PAThe Associated Press (AP 11/27/17) is reporting that the City of Philadelphia could be out millions of dollars as it moves to settle more than 300 police abuse lawsuits and other cases alleging misconduct on the part of police officers in the city and, specifically, members of a narcotics squad that resulted in at least two wrongful murder convictions, and about 1,000 other convictions that were deemed wrongful.

According to the AP report, The Office of the District Attorney announced in 2012 that it would no longer prosecute any cases brought by the officers within the narcotics squad in question. Following that announcement, prosecutors evaluated cases and dismissed upwards of 1,000 convictions.

The AP report said that an investigation targeted the unit and uncovered both the wrongdoing, and the police abuse. And while six of the officers accused of misconduct in a criminal trial were acquitted, convictions tied to the unit were investigated and analyzed, with numerous convictions tossed out or set aside.

Specific details were not revealed. However, The Philadelphia Inquirer (11/26/17) noted accusations of fabricated evidence, illegal searches and other examples of misconduct. As a result, there have been many police abuse lawsuits alleging police abused their authority in such a way that wrongful convictions resulted.

On top of the 1,000 convictions already tossed, there are in excess of 200 cases that remain under review. So far, according to AP and the Inquirer, The City of Philadelphia has paid out $2 million to settle 75 lawsuits brought against the narcotics squad and its members. This is on top of the roughly $9 million the City pays out each year to settle various civil rights claims against police officers employed by the City of Philadelphia.

And there’s more. The City of Philadelphia could also pay up to $8 million to resolve complaints against the narcotics squad, and up to $16 million to resolve two unrelated charges of wrongful murder convictions.

In total, according to AP, there are more than 300 police abuse lawsuits that have either been settled, or in throes of being settled.

The Inquirer reported that plaintiff Marcia Hintz is a one-time mental health aide who was accused, and subsequently convicted of selling Xanax from her home. Hintz countered the pills were prescribed to her longtime companion for his renal failure. Still, Hintz was accused of selling Xanax to an undercover police officer, and was charged.

Hintz denied the sale ever took place, and testified on her own behalf at trial before a judge, who sided with the police officer’s allegedly fabricated testimony and sentenced Hintz to five, to ten years in prison. Hintz subsequently spent three years and two months behind bars before her release to a halfway house.

Her conviction was eventually tossed, due to evidence that the case against her had been fabricated. But she had already lost over three years of her life to prison, together with the shame that goes with being a convicted drug dealer.

Hintz is one of many who initiated a police abuse lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia, which settled with the plaintiff for $625,000 – the largest single settlement thus far.

Other plaintiffs alleging police abuse and having filed a first responder misconduct lawsuit are looking to the Hintz settlement as a benchmark.

Her lawsuit was Hintz v. City of Philadelphia et al., Case No. 2:15-cv-01022, filed February 26th, 2015 at Pennsylvania Eastern District Court.

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