No immunity for police in torture case

Jan. 9, 2012 at 3:00 PM
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PITTSBURGH, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- A federal judge ruled Pennsylvania State Police troopers do not have immunity from allegations they tortured a restrained woman in custody.

Chief U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster denied a motion from the accused group of officers, saying the allegations concerned events that were outside the scope of an officer's employment, Courthouse News reported Monday.

Derena Madison's lawsuit against officers Chad Weaver and Michael Zampogna, a person identified as Cooley and two unidentified individuals states Madison was taken into custody on charges of public drunkenness and disorderly conduct after she protested her friend's arrest for driving under the influence.

The suit alleges Weaver "twice sprayed [her] face, head and body with pepper spray, without justification ... for the purpose of torturing her."

Madison, who was restrained in handcuffs and manacles on her feet, said she called for help and officers carried her outside the barracks near Uniontown and poured large quantities of cold water on her head, leading her to black out. It wasn't reported when the incident allegedly took place.

"When she regained consciousness," Madison allegedly "felt and smelled urine on her head, face, neck and person. She believes that while she was unconscious, one or more of the defendants urinated on her," the suit alleges.

Madison's "allegations of assault outside the police barracks suggest personal motivation, rather than intent to serve the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," Lancaster wrote in his ruling. "Therefore, [the officers] are not entitled to sovereign immunity based on the pleadings."

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