From [HERE] A Black man seeks damages of at least $10 million in a lawsuit alleging white Riverside police officers broke his spine after responding to a dispute at a gas station.
Robert W. Franklin Jr., 52, also asserts officers ignored his pleas for medical help, leaving him in a cell “in excruciating pain” for hours.
And the Greensboro man claims a municipal prosecutor pursued “trumped-up” charges against him in an effort to derail Franklin’s lawsuit against the township and its police officers.
The suit contends the officers’ actions were motivated “solely or in part” by racial bias against Franklin, who is black.
Franklin is seeking damages for false arrest, excessive force and malicious prosecution, among other alleged civil-rights abuses.
According to the suit, he was injured on May 28, 2016, after a dispute over $15 worth of gas at a Fairview Street service station.
The suit says Franklin paid for the gas with a $20 bill, took his change, and gave a $2 tip to the station attendant. It contends the station employee then claimed Franklin had not paid for his gas and demanded an additional $15.
After the men argued, both agreed to call police to the station, the suit says.
It contends two white officers – Michael Megara and Timothy Morano – had a “lengthy discussion” with the attendant and his manager, but “intimidated (Franklin) and unlawfully ordered him to pay.” It is not clear whether the attendant was also white.
The suit contends Franklin was “non-threatening and non-antagonistic,” but was also “upset and did fear for his safety.”
It says he agreed to pay for the gas a second time, but the officers “continued with their verbal attacks, insults and even threatened taking Franklin to jail if he did not shut the f- up."
The suit alleges Franklin gave the attendant another $20 bill, told him to keep the change and “verbally expressed his dissatisfaction” with the officers’ actions.
Less than a minute later, the suit continues, one or both of the officers “yanked Franklin out of his vehicle and slammed his head into a gas pump.” It alleges Franklin was “slammed … with such force that the pump swayed back and forth.” The officers dragged Franklin to a patrol car and threw him into the back seat, according to the suit.
It says Franklin asked to be taken to a hospital but instead was held in a police station cell for three hours. It says an ambulance was called to take him to Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro, where doctors determined he should be treated at the trauma unit of Cooper University Hospital in Camden.
"Franklin was diagnosed with a fracture to his spinal column, as well as other injuries to his body," the suit says.
Franklin was charged with resisting arrest, obstruction and improper behavior/disorderly conduct.
He was convicted in August of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, but the case is being appealed, according to municipal court record.
The lawsuit asserts the charges were filed "purely to cover up the illegal and unconstitutional conduct" of the officers. It also alleges Municipal Prosecutor R. Louis Gallagher pursued the charges in an effort “to insulate” the officers from potential liability.
Among other claims, it alleges Gallagher said Franklin “is going to jail because he is trying to take the livelihood of the … officers with his lawsuit.”
Gallagher declined to comment Monday, saying he had not yet seen the lawsuit.
The suit was filed Friday in federal court in Camden by attorney Russell Friedman of Lake Success, N.Y. He did not respond to a request for comment.