Ex-Felton man files federal suit over false arrest case

 

DOVER — A former Felton resident is seeking what he believes is justice regarding 2012 interactions with law enforcement officers investigating a terroristic threatening allegation against him raised by his former wife.

On April 22, Gordon G. Smith, 50, now living in Florida, filed a federal lawsuit against the Delaware State Police and Department of Correction, alleging harsh and unwarranted treatment ensued as authorities investigated claims that eventually brought false report charges against his accuser.

Gordon Smith

Gordon Smith

Earlier, Mr. Smith’s lawsuit against law enforcement regarding a series of false arrests allegedly involving his former wife and protection-from-abuse orders in 2010 was dismissed in state Superior Court. Mr. Smith said several cases against him were not prosecuted and his record connected to the incidents was expunged.

The current suit covers actions taken from July 28 to Sept. 6, 2012, when Mr. Smith claims he was arrested and illegally fitted with a GPS ankle monitor when further accused by his former wife.

The federal lawsuit references five defendants, including then-Department of Correction Commissioner Carl Danberg, and current commissioner Robert Coupe, who was a Delaware State Police trooper during the sequence in 2012 and allegedly participated in Mr. Smith’s arrest. Two other troopers and a probation officer are also included.

According to Mr. Smith, he was arrested and then charged with terroristic threatening after his former wife told police he threatened to kill her during a phone call on July 28, 2012.

Mr. Smith maintained the arrest was made “without corroborating evidence,” and Justice of the Peace Court ordered him “to be put on probation, as part of his bond, prior to his standing trial or being convicted of any criminal offense.” He was required to report weekly to the Department of Probation in Dover, Mr. Smith alleged.

On Aug. 21, 2012, Mr. Smith claimed, the Court of Common Pleas approved a request by the DOC for monitoring via GPS and through an ankle monitor.

Mr. Smith alleged in the lawsuit that he had not “stood trial, faced his accuser, or been convicted of a criminal offense.

“Additionally [Mr. Smith] was required to wear an ankle monitor that he had to charge twice a day. Fully charging the ankle monitor took three hours each time, which meant [Smith] was attached to a wall outlet for no less than six hours a day.”

Mr. Smith claimed “he was not allowed to travel out of the Delaware and Maryland areas” and thus denied the right to freely practice his religion due to services he attended on Sundays in Washington, D.C.

An arrest detailed

On Aug. 28, 2012, in Camden, Mr. Smith said he was arrested at gunpoint by three state police troopers in the Texas Roadhouse parking lot.

Mr. Smith alleged he was violently handcuffed and the troopers “refused to tell him why he was under arrest when he asked and continued to verbally assault him.

“They dragged him to the official department vehicle and threw him in the back…”

During the apprehension, according to Mr. Smith, he was referenced by a trooper as a “scumbag” and “retard.”

According to Mr. Smith’s lawsuit, the troopers “had access to the GPS history to determine that [Smith’s] ex-wife’s accusation were meritless. Defendant police officers knew or should have known that [Smith’s] ex-wife was the subject of an ongoing investigation regarding her false reports regarding [Mr. Smith.} Defendant police officers knew or should have known that there was no probable cause to arrest Smith.”

At Troop 3, Mr. Smith alleged he was assaulted and battered and left in a “cold” jail cell for approximately two and a half hours; he said he suffered bruises and lacerations, according to Mr. Smith.

“[Mr. Smith] feared for his life and safety and was terrified by the experience,” the suit read.

Half-clothed and barefoot, Mr. Smith alleged a trooper eventually walked him through the building and was not charged with any crimes, according to the suit.

“He was allowed to put his clothes back on and given a ride back to his car,” Mr. Smith claimed.

Former wife arrested

The lawsuit alleged Mr. Smith’s former wife was arrested three days later by the Dover Police Department and “charged with making three false reports to police and a felony misstatement to police during an investigation.”

After Dover Police Department’s request, Mr. Smith said, the state Attorney General’s Office dropped all pending charges against him. The DOC removed the ankle monitor on Sept. 4, according to the suit.

After the incident, Mr. Smith claimed, he “has been unable to work for various periods of time and denied employment at other times based on the false arrests despite the fact that he had no convictions aside from a minor harassment misdemeanor.”

Mr. Smith claims his First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated.

Since Jan. 14, 2010, Mr. Smith alleges he’s suffered panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder and “lived in terror anytime he was in the State of Delaware.”

The lawsuit was filed by Cooch and Taylor attorney Anthony Delcollo on Mr. Smith’s behalf.

Mr. Smith said he currently works for a private security firm in Orlando, Florida.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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