PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Video of predominantly white police officers in Delaware County arresting a black family in front of their home for loitering is raising a lot of questions and concerns, and the family is now fighting back against Chester Township Police Department.
It’s been a little more than a week since everything happened, but Rachel Briggs is still shaken up by the ordeal that took place on her lawn.
“It’s a terrifying thing. It makes me feel as though the police can knock down your door, and drag you out of your home at anytime. This is an incident that made me feel like I’m a prisoner in my own home,” Briggs said.
She said everything started they day before, on Oct. 1, when Officer Pasquale Storace III arrested her sons and nephew for loitering while they were playing in her front yard.
“The gentleman were taken to jail, they had high bails placed on them. The families scrambled to get their money together, they were able to get them out the next day,” she explained.
When the young men, who are black, were released from jail, they were greeted by family members on that same lawn where they were arrested. Kevin Mincey, the family’s lawyer, said that’s when officer Storace, who is white, showed up and decided to re-arrest them as well as several other members of their family.
“This shouldn’t happen to any citizen, and certainly a homeowner or someone who’s renting a property,” Mincey said.
The family says they were not going against any of the township’s loitering statutes, statutes Mincey said were deemed unconstitutional in 2012 and have since been revamped.
“It essentially says there are to be well posted areas of no loitering signs up that say ‘no loitering.’ There are no ‘no loitering’ signs in this particular neighborhood,” he said.
The video of the incident, taken by a family member, is graphic in nature and contains profanities. Viewer discretion is advised.
The family is charged with loitering, resisting arrest and other offenses.
Mincey said they plan on clearing their names in criminal court before taking their own legal action against township police.
Thomas Fitzpatrick, who also represents the family, said they plan on questioning the officers actions when they go to court.
“Who the hell do they think they are to victimize a family like this and do this to someone in this community,” Fitzpatrick said.
The criminal case against the family is expected to go to court later this month.
Calls for comment to the Chester Township Police Department were not returned.