UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
WILLIAM THOMAS, )
1424 12th Street, N.W. )
Washington, D.C. 20008 )
(202) 462-0757 )
v. ) Civil Action No: 1:99CV00330
) JUDGE: Stanley Sporkin
OFC. DAVID LOMBARDI, ) DECK TYPE: Civil General
United States Park Police ) DATE STAMP: 02/12/99
1100 Ohio Drive, S.W. )
Washington, D.C. 20242 )
(202) 619-7310 )
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, )
Civil Process Clerk )
U.S. Attorney for the )
District of Columbia )
555 4th Street, N.W. )
Washington, D.C. 20001 )
(202) 514-6600 )
Attorney General )
of the United States )
Department of Justice )
10th St. )
and Constitution Ave., N.W. )
Washington, D.C. 20530 )
(202) 514-2001 )
VERIFIED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES
(False Arrest, False Imprisonment, Violation of First and Fourth
Jurisdiction and Venue
1. The Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§
1331 and 1346(b), the First and Fourth Amendments to the United
States Constitution, and the Federal Tort Claims Act.
2. On November 4, 1997, plaintiff submitted an Administrative
Claim on Form SF 95, Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death, to the
United States Park Police, National Park Service, Department of
the Interior. This claim was denied on August 13, 1998.
3. Plaintiff is a resident of the District of Columbia.
4. Defendant United States of America is sued under the Federal
Tort Claims Act for false arrest and false imprisonment by a law
enforcement officer of the United States Park Police.
5. Defendant Ofc. David LombardI was at all relevant times
an employee and officer of the United States Park Police, National
Park Service, Department of the Interior, an agency of the United
States of America. He is sued in his individual capacity.
6. On November 4, 1996 at approximately 3:00 p.m., plaintiff
William Thomas was attending his Proposition One protest vigil
site on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue across from the
White House, in Lafayette Park, Washington, D.C. Mr. Thomas was
talking with an individual named Daniel Jackson when a news team
consisting of a man with a video camera and a woman with a microphone
approached. The news team asked Mr. Thomas if he would be willing
to be interviewed, and Mr. Thomas agreed.
7. As the news team prepared to videotape the interview, Ofc.
Lombardi approached and told the news team, "You can't use
that video camera in the Park." Mr. Thomas, believing the
alleged proscription to be false, told the news team, "Don't
pay any attention to him. Of course you can use your camera in
the Park." Ofc. Lombardi repeated to the news team that they
were not permitted to use the camera. Mr. Thomas objected and
told the news team that the officer had no authority to prevent
them from using the camera. Mr. Thomas told Ofc. Lombardi that
the news team did not have a tripod and said, "You have nothing
to bother these people about." The news team moved into position
to conduct the interview. Ofc. Lombardi walked away from Mr. Thomas
and the news team and stood approximately 15 feet away.
8. Another U.S. Park Police officer named Gonzalez approached
Mr. Thomas and asked him, "What's your problem?" Mr.
Thomas replied, "I don't have any problem." Ofc. Gonzalez
repeated three more times, "What's your problem?" Each
time, Mr. Thomas responded that he did not have a problem, and
stated that perhaps Ofc. Lombardi, who remained standing approximately
15 feet away from Mr. Thomas and Ofc. Gonzalez, had a problem.
Mr. Thomas told Ofc. Gonzalez that he was interfering with Mr.
Thomas's ability to conduct an interview. Ofc. Gonzalez said,
"I'm going to be watching you and as soon as I see you doing
anything I'm going to be right on you." Mr. Thomas asked
Ofc. Gonzalez to leave him alone. Ofc. Gonzalez responded, "I
don't have to go anywhere. I can stand right here." Mr. Thomas
said, "Okay, you stand there." Mr. Thomas turned away
from Ofc. Gonzalez and walked to where the news team was standing.
9. As the news team conducted the interview with Mr. Thomas,
four or five U.S. Secret Service uniformed officers walked toward
them and joined Ofcs. Lombardi and Gonzalez, both of whom were
standing near the curb about 20 feet away from Mr. Thomas's signs.
The officers stood watching Mr. Thomas and the news crew and spoke
in low voices to one another. The news team cut short their interview
with Mr. Thomas and left the Park. Mr. Thomas sat down between
his signs and began reading a newspaper. Concepcion Picciotto,
who regularly attends signs near Mr. Thomas, returned to her signs
and gave Mr. Thomas a cup of hot chocolate.
10. About 10 minutes later, Ofcs. Lombardi and Gonzalez, who
had remained standing nearby with the group of Secret Service
officers, walked toward Mr. Thomas. Ofc. Lombardi walked up to
stand in front of Mr. Thomas while Ofc. Gonzalez remained a few
feet behind Ofc. Lombardi. With his foot, Ofc. Lombardi tapped
an accordion file containing paper literature. Ofc. Lombardi asked,
"Is this yours?" Ofc. Lombardi said, "Take it and
get out of the Park." Mr. Thomas did not answer and continued
reading the newspaper. Ms. Picciotto told Ofc. Lombardi that,
because Mr. Thomas was demonstrating, Mr. Thomas did not need
to leave the Park. Ofc. Lombardi stated that Mr. Thomas was not
demonstrating and that the signs belonged to Ms. Picciotto. She
told Ofc. Lombardi that the signs belonged to both herself and
Mr. Thomas, and that both of their names appeared on the signs.
Ofc. Lombardi insisted that the signs did not belong to Mr. Thomas
and that he had to leave the Park. Mr. Thomas did not respond.
11. Via radio, Ofc. Lombardi requested a transport vehicle.
Ms. Picciotto and Mr. Thomas's wife, Ellen Thomas, urged Mr. Thomas
to leave the Park to avoid being arrested. Despite his belief
that the officers were wrong to require him to leave, Mr. Thomas
reluctantly mounted his bicycle and, carrying his hot chocolate,
rode from the Pennsylvania Avenue curb north toward the center
of the Park. He saw an individual named Frank Wall standing near
Ellen Thomas. Mr. Thomas rode his bicycle toward Mr. Wall in order
to talk to him.
12. As Mr. Thomas, riding his bicycle, approached Mr. Wall,
Ofc. Lombardi walked toward Mr. Wall. Ofc. Gonzalez followed a
few feet behind Ofc. Lombardi. The group of Secret Service officers
also moved closer to where Mr. Wall stood. Ofc. Lombardi said
to Mr. Thomas, "I told you to get out of the Park."
Mr. Thomas replied that he had something to say to Mr. Wall. Ofc.
Lombardi shouted, "Get out of the Park, now!" Mr. Thomas
repeated that he had something to say to Mr. Wall. Ofc. Lombardi
repeated, "Get out of the Park, now!" Mr. Thomas again
repeated that he had something to say to Mr. Wall.
13. Ofc. Lombardi shoved Mr. Thomas, causing the hot chocolate
Mr. Thomas was holding to spill on Mr. Wall. Ofc. Lombardi then
grabbed Mr. Thomas and placed handcuffs on his wrists.
14. A male U.S. Park Police supervisor arrived and asked Mr.
Thomas what happened. Mr. Thomas told the supervisor, "Let
me go; I haven't done anything wrong." Mr. Thomas told the
supervisor that Ofc. Lombardi had told him to leave the park,
and that Mr. Thomas did not believe that Ofc. Lombardi had any
right to do so.
15. Ofc. Lombardi and other officers placed Mr. Thomas in
a police cruiser and transported him to the U.S. Park Police substation
located at Haines Point, Washington, D.C. At the substation, an
officer told Mr. Thomas that he was being charged with disorderly
conduct. Desk Officer Grefe refused to release Mr. Thomas on his
own recognizance because Mr. Thomas did not have any picture identification
in his possession. Mr. Thomas objected that picture identification
should not be required because Ofc. Grefe and the other officers
present knew Mr. Thomas's identity. Ofcs. Grefe and Lombardi both
admitted that they knew Mr. Thomas. Ofc. Grefe told Mr. Thomas
that he would have to post a $25 bond for his release. Mr. Thomas's
wife, Ellen Thomas, came to the substation with Mr. Thomas's picture
identification. Despite Ofc. Grefe's prior statements, the officers
refused to release Mr. Thomas on the basis of the identification,
and instead required Ms. Thomas to pay the $25 bond. Upon payment
of the bond, Mr. Thomas was released.
16. Mr. Thomas appeared in D.C. Superior Court on November
20, 1996 for a hearing on the disorderly conduct charge. At a
trial on April 2, 1997 the Court acquitted Mr. Thomas of the charge.
17. As a result of the acts of the officer(s) described in
paragraphs 6-16 above, Mr. Thomas suffered loss of liberty and
mental and emotional distress.
Common Law Claims Against Defendant United States of America (FTCA)
18. The actions of Ofc. Lombardi set forth in paragraphs
6-16 constitute false arrest and false imprisonment in violation
of District of Columbia common law. Under the Federal Tort Claims
Act the defendant United States of America is liable to the plaintiff
for the unlawful actions of Ofc. Lombardi as he was acting within
the scope of his employment as a law enforcement officer of the
United States Secret Service.
Constitutional Claims Against Officer Lombardi
19. The actions of Ofc. Lombardi set forth in paragraphs
6-16 were substantially motivated by Mr. Thomas's thwarting of
Ofc. Lombardi's attempt to stop Mr. Thomas's lawful exercise of
his rights to speak to the news crew, and violated Mr. Thomas's
right to free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Defendant Lombardi is liable to the plaintiff for these unlawful
actions in violation of the Constitution.
20. The actions of Ofc. Lombardi set forth in paragraphs 6-16
violated Mr. Thomas's right to be free from unreasonable detention,
search and seizure without probable cause under the Fourth Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution. Defendant Lombardi is liable to the
plaintiff for these unlawful actions in violation of the Constitution.
21. On the claims stated in paragraph 18, Mr. Thomas asks
the Court to enter judgment in his favor against defendant United
States of America.
22. On the claims stated in paragraphs 19-20, Mr. Thomas asks
the Court to enter judgment in his favor against defendant Ofc.
23. For the injuries Mr. Thomas suffered as a result of the
claims stated in paragraphs 18-20, Mr. Thomas asks the Court to
hold defendants United States of America and Ofc. Lombardi jointly
and severally liable to him for compensatory damages and the costs
of this action.
24. On the claims stated in paragraphs 19-20, Mr. Thomas asks
the Court to hold defendant Ofc. Lombardi further liable to him
for punitive damages.
25. Plaintiff demands a jury trial of his constitutional
claims against Ofc. Lombardi.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the
United States of America that the statements contained in the
foregoing 3, and 6-17 are true and correct.
1424 12th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Daniel M. Schember, D.C. Bar #237180
Alisa A. Wilkins, D.C. Bar #440880
Gaffney & Schember, P.C.
1666 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
Counsel for Plaintiff