Friday, March 30, 2012

Suit alleges police encouraged vigilante justice

We've often spoken about the damage done by a false accusation, both here and on our old site. We've documented many instances of beatings and even death (as noted HERE) from a false allegation. Unfortunately, this is a much overlooked byproduct of a false claim of sexual assault or rape.*

It's all the more heinous when the harm is officially condoned. The following is a piece out of Philadelphia (LINK), and it is an update of this story

The hanging trees from the Old South have been figuratively replanted in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood. On a steamy day in June of 2009, an innocent man named Michael Zenquis was beaten by an angry mob after he was wrongly accused of raping an 11-year-old girl. A female onlooker yelled, "Rapist!"  He heard someone say he deserved to die while others shouted, "Kill him, kill him!"  Michael was beaten with sticks and a baseball bat. Michael was stomped. Michael was bleeding, but he kept yelling, "I'm innocent, I didn't do anything."  When the vicious attack finally ended, Michael had sustained injuries to his back, his eye, his shoulder, and his foot.

The police took Michael away but quickly discovered they had picked up the wrong guy.  So what do you think they did?  They dropped him right back in the neighborhood where the animals had beaten him. Getting out of Kensington alive became a terrifying ordeal for Michael.

In light of this despicable atrocity to an innocent man, what did the Mayor do?  What did the police commissioner do?

I'll tell you what they did: nothing.

Worse. The next day, a different mob caught up with the actual rapist, named Jose Carrasquillo. What do you think happened?  The mob gave him a brutal beating that lasted several minutes until the police got there.

So, did the mayor or the police condemn the vigilante justice? 

Exactly the opposite. The police gave two of the men who helped "apprehend" Carrasquillo $5,750 each. 

Further, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced he would not pursue criminal charges against the mob. Ramsey explained that the man's injuries were not life-threatening (the new test for assault in Philadelphia?), and, after all, emotions were running high. "From what I've seen so far," Ramsey smugly declared, "we have one victim and that's an 11-year-old girl.''

And the message this sends to people predisposed to vigilante justice is -- what, exactly?

Michael Zenquist filed suit against Philadelphia, alleging that the Philadelphia police told people in the Kensington neighborhood that Zenquist was a child rapist even though he wasn't, and that the neighbors were free to assault Mr. Zenquist.
The city of Philadelphia moved to dismiss the complaint, but U.S. District Judge Louis Pollack stated that allegations in the complaint are "adequate to state a claim for conspiracy."

     "To support the inference of an agreement among the officer defendants and the private individuals who assaulted him, Zenquis relies principally on the allegation that the private individuals had spoken to at least one or more of the individual [police] defendants, and were told ... that they should detain [Zenquis] and that they would be permitted to use force against [Zenquis]," Pollack wrote (brackets and ellipsis in original). "This is consistent with and buttressed by the allegations, earlier in the amended complaint, that at least some of the officer defendants were canvassing the Kensington neighborhood for several hours prior to the assault."
Allegations of the rewards that civilians received for detaining Carrasquillo also support the claims for municipal liability, the decision states.

*How do we protect people from such harm? Anonymity for all involved until such time as a conviction is obtained would go a long way toward protecting the innocent. After all, for no other crimes except those related to sexual assault do we allow anonymity for the accuser (with the exception of children). Rape is considered a special crime because it carries inordinate shame and stigma; that same shame and stigma affects those who are branded rapists. Justice, and fidelity to the principles of presumption of innocence, argue for anonymity for the accused.


  1. I wonder what would have been the mayor's and police chief's position had either victim of the crowd assault been armed and put the contents of one or two magazines into the swarming crowd of vigilantes? There would certainly have been legal justification for the use of deadly force in self-defense, based on disparity of force between an individual and a mob, but somehow I suspect the "authorities" would have sought a way to charge the beaten men. Oh, wait - this was Philadelphia - do you have the right of armed self-defense there?

  2. What a crock of crap !!! First off, vigilante justice is BAD news. Putting that aside, let's talk about hypocrisy. Had the first guy beaten up been a cop's kid or the mayor's kid or a really rich person's kid OR had a female been beaten up (let's say hypothetically, the mob assumed she was an accessory), the police reaction would have been totally different. So, this reaction is worse than just green lighting vigilantes; it's also a shameless statement that some human beings lives and justice is worth more than others. Despicable.

  3. This is why you always walk strapped....always.....

  4. I left the links earlier about the false rape case in Australia. Do a Google search for "Vivienne Dye" to get the full story. She made up a false rape allegation about two men she worked with, and they were found to be false, but both men were forced to leave their work, and one the country, as a result. It was later discovered that she had made similar allegations at her previous work, and was awarded $20,000 in a presettlement.


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