CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — A family in Delaware County says they were targeted and unjustly arrested earlier this month for loitering while standing outside of their own Chester Township home. The family says they are now suing.
Some family members were arrested twice in two days. They say they were doing nothing wrong and were just standing outside of their house.
But police accused them of loitering. The arrests were caught on camera, and now the family is suing.
The video shows Ramir Briggs being pulled over the railing of his family’s porch on Shannon Street in Chester Township. Keith Briggs was tased and put in the back of a cop car.
According to arrest records, police said he was loitering, refused to disperse and was cursing at officers. It’s not clear what happened before the camera started recording.
But after four people in the same family were arrested, police then asked who lives at the home.
“The Chester Township Police Department has failed my family. Instead of protecting us and serving us, they decided to attack us on multiple occasions,” said Rachel Briggs, one of the people arrested.
The family said they will be filing a civil lawsuit because they were made to feel like criminals.
“Who do they think they are to victimize a family like this and do this to someone in the community? Who do they think they are?” attorney Kevin Fitzpatrick asked.
“I just felt that the police presence was excessive. Fifteen police cars — that’s a lot for a family of four or five,” neighbor Turquoise Benson said.
The scene left neighbors shocked.
In the video, family members are heard asking police why they’re being arrested.
The family said they were greeting family members who were just released from jail after they were arrested the day before for the same charge.
“I never knew that police officers could decide on one of us being outside too long or arrest us again,” Rachel Briggs said.
The township’s loitering statute says there are areas of the township where loitering is prohibited. In those areas, the statute says “officers can question anyone they believe is loitering and ask them to leave.”
It’s not clear if the family’s home is one of those areas.
The family’s lawyer says the township’s loitering statute was struck down in court back in 2012 when courts ruled it was too vague. However, he says based on these arrests, police are still using the same practices.
Everyone who was arrested will be in court on Oct. 17. The family is now planning a civil lawsuit against the police department.
Eyewitness News reached out to the police department several times Wednesday but did not hear back.