A robbery suspect claims a Pennsylvania police officer kicked him in the head, gave him a broken jaw, and left him requiring three days worth of hospital treatment.
Hector Medina-Pena claims Allentown Officer Joseph M. Ianetta used excessive force when he was being detained for a suspected robbery in May 2015, the Morning Call reported.
Media-Pena is now suing Iannetta, his fellow officer Patrick Bull, the ex-police chief Joel Fitzgerald Jr, and the Allentown mayor and city.
In May 2015, a man seemed to show a gun in his waistband, demanded money from a worker at a strip club called Platinum Plus, and received almost $1600 before fleeing in a SUV with three men, the Morning Call reported.
Police pursued the vehicle and a bag with cash was thrown from a window.
The lawsuit, according to the newspaper, says the SUV was stopped by police and Medina-Pena exited the vehicle.
He followed Ianetta’s instructions and went down on all fours in front of Iannetta’s patrol car.
The suit reportedly says: ‘Horrifically, while [Medina-Pena] was positioned on all fours, and defenseless, defendant Iannetta approached [Medina-Pena] with his gun drawn and performed what can only be described as a “WWE” style kick with his booted foot to [Medina-Pena’s] right side of his head and face.’
Iannetta allegedly also later kicked the back of Medina-Pena’s head, the Morning Call’s report said.
Medina-Pena’s lawyer Joshua Karoly told the newspaper: ‘The video speaks louder than I ever could.’
The suit says Medina-Pena – who claims he was hospitalized for a broken jaw and three missing teeth – wasn’t found to have weapons, according to the report.
Medina-Pena would later plead guilty to robbery.
Allentown Police Chief Keith Morris said in a statement: ‘Hector Medina-Pena exited the vehicle, and while walking in the direction of Officer Iannetta, reached towards his waistband.
‘Hector Medina-Pena repeatedly refused to comply with Officer Iannetta’s commands throughout the course of the encounter, repeatedly reaching into the area of his waistband where he was wearing a fanny-pack.
Morris continued: ‘Medina-Pena subsequently pled guilty to Robbery in Lehigh County Court and was sentenced to 4 ½ to 10 years in state prison.
‘In today’s society, where officers are routinely being criticized for their use of firearms in encounters with suspects, this is an incident where an officer (based on his training) used a reasonable amount of force in response to the report of an armed suspect and necessitated by Mr. Medina-Pena’s criminal actions, and took a felon into custody with minimal risk and injury to all involved.’
Allentown City Solicitor Susan Wild said in a statement: ‘Officer Iannetta is a 14 1/2 year veteran of the APD.
‘He has training far above and beyond the required training, is highly decorated for merit and bravery, and is himself an instructor and field training officer at the Police Academy and Commander of the Emergency Response Team.
‘The actions of Officer Iannetta have been thoroughly reviewed by command staff and the Solicitor’s Office and found to be appropriate under the circumstances.
‘We look forward to the evidence in this case demonstrating that his actions were appropriate.’