From [HERE] A federal judge has ruled a Glassboro man can pursue a civil rights lawsuit against two police officers who allegedly used excessive force during an arrest.
But Kameron Teel can only ask a jury to consider a single claim in his lawsuit – and not additional allegations against Glassboro and several of its police officers, the ruling said.
Teel alleges Glassboro police Sgt. Daniel Eliasen "climbed on top of him, choked him, sprayed him with pepper spray and handcuffed him,” Kugler’s ruling noted.
The suit contends a second officer, Domenic Visceglia, threatened to unleash a K-9 on Teel, who was then 26. It also says either Eliasen or Visceglia "slammed (Teel's) head into the police vehicle multiple times,” the judge noted in the decision issued Friday.
Teel was accused of resisting arrest and other offenses, but the charges were dismissed a month later.
Teel, who worked as a substitute teacher, sued the borough, Eliasen and several unnamed officers in April 2017. He has no criminal record.
He amended his complaint in January of this year to name Visceglia and other officers. Kugler's ruling accepted the borough’s argument that Teel had failed to file a required tort claim notice before amending his lawsuit. The judge said that lapse barred Teel from pursuing almost all of his claims.
But Kugler said Teel could still argue that Eliasen and Visceglia violated his constitutional rights by failing to intervene to stop his alleged mistreatment in the park.
That claim isn't subject to a state law that requires tort notices in advance of lawsuits against public entities, the judge noted.
On June 24, Teel was riding his bike through New Street Park when Glassboro Police Sgt. Dan Eliason yelled at him to get down on the ground, according to the suit. Teel did as he was told as another officer pulled up to the scene with a K-9.
The suit claims that Teel was laying on the ground, complying to police orders, when Eliason put his knee on Teel's back, making it difficult for Teel to breathe and causing extreme pain.
Teel allegedly yelled "I can't breathe, I can't breathe. They are trying to kill me and I don't want to die."
Teel alleges he was pepper-sprayed and handcuffed. After leading him to a police vehicle, an unidentified police officer allegedly "slammed" Teel's head into the hood. After seeing the damage to the vehicle, the officer allegedly told Teel he would be charged with destruction of governmental property.
Teel was also injured when he was bitten numerous times on his legs and hands by the police K-9, he claims in the lawsuit.
At the time of Teel's arrest, according to court documents, police were seeking a suspect in drug activity in the park. The suspect was, however, described as being a black male, approximately 13 years old. According to the lawsuit, Teel's body type is "extremely large and muscular as he was a scholarship soccer player for La Salle University, as well as a judo and soccer coach/trainer" and was not a match for the suspect's description, the lawsuit claims.
Teel's lawyers said a police video of the incident exists, but the borough has not provided it to them.
"I think it's kind of ridiculous that a police officer would slam his head into a car, write up the police report and then retract the story and keep the tapes," D. Wesley Cornish of Cornerstone Legal Group said. "The city has put up a lot of resistance in letting us see the tape but the public has a right to know."
Cornish explained that tapes such as this are typically provided in the discovery part of criminal legal cases, however, Teel's charges were dropped and the case was dismissed before it could go to discovery.