PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — “If it could happen to him, a white man in a suit and tie, in front of cameras, who among us is safe?”
Attorney Patricia Pierce asks that question while speaking about her client, 72-year-old Clifford Haines.
Back in August, she says that Haines, who is a prominent Philadelphia attorney, was meeting one of his clients inside of the Criminal Justice Center and had forgotten his bar card. That meant that he had to enter though the general security door and forfeit his phone into a locked pouch.
Earlier this year a new rule went into effect at the CJC that allows visitors to keep their phones with them but only after they have been locked into pouches by security so that they cannot be used.
“He realized that he left the phone on,” said Pierce.
When Haines approached a sheriff’s deputy to unlock the phone, Pierce says that her client felt that he was spoken to rudely and expressed his disappointment to a deputy.
That is where things took a strange turn. Surveillance video that caught the confrontation shows the deputy push Haines several times, as another shove approaches.
“Mr. Haines pushes his hand away and then everything breaks loose,” said Pierce. “Five guards jump on him. One of them gets him in a chokehold around his neck, pulls him onto the belt. They then throw him down to the ground.”
When Haines was taken to the ground, Pierce says that her client’s shoulder was both dislocated and broken. Despite the injuries, she adds that Haines was kept in handcuffs before spending 18 hours in custody.
While the district attorney’s office decided not to press charges against Haines, he is now suing five sheriff’s deputies and a sergeant over the incident, claiming assault, battery and emotional distress.
Over the phone, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office told Eyewitness News that as of Tuesday evening they were not officially made aware of the lawsuit and therefore could not provide comment.