Atlantic City police officer facing excessive-force lawsuit

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ATLANTIC CITY — A city police officer has found himself embroiled in an excessive-force case that threatens to dig up past abuse allegations and hold the city liable for not checking officers flagged by an early warning system for excessive force.

The case is the second federal excessive-force report made public in recent months and surrounding officers of the Atlantic City Police Department.

Detective Franco Sydnor, an officer since 2003, is being sued in federal civil court by Anthony Moore, 41, of Pennsylvania, for alleged use of excessive force during a 2012 incident at Bally’s Atlantic City. Moore required several staples in his head to close a wound caused by Sydnor, according to court documents.

Steve Glickman, an attorney for Sydnor, wrote in court documents that Moore was attending a bachelor party at the casino and was “acting belligerent and acting in an overtly defiant manner” toward authorities.

Jennifer Bonjean, an attorney for Moore, said Wednesday she is confident she will prove Sydnor used excessive force and that the Police Department purposely quashed excessive-force cases involving its officers.

Bonjean also represented Steven Stadler in a case against two current and one former Atlantic City police officer in federal court earlier this year.

On Oct. 7, 2012, Moore was intoxicated in Bally’s with his brother, Cirian Moore, and several friends when the group got into a dispute with security guards at the casino, according to court documents and surveillance video obtained by The Press of Atlantic City. The video shows Sydnor and other officers arriving at the scene and Cirian Moore being thrown to the ground by Sydnor.

The video also shows the following:

Sydnor and the casino security team escort Cirian and Anthony Moore, as well as other members of the group, to the Boardwalk exit of Bally’s. During the escort, both Moores turn around and continue to talk to Sydnor.

When the group reaches the Boardwalk exit, the incident turns into a melee.

Sydnor is pushed and knocked over, though it is not clear in the video whether it was Anthony Moore or a friend standing next to him, Aaron McGowan, who knocked Sydnor over.

Sydnor then picked up Anthony Moore by the handcuffs, which Moore says left him with permanent damage to his wrists.

Moore was taken to the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, and diagnosed with a concussion, according to court documents.

Moore and Bonjean are trying to convince Judge Jerome B. Simandle to let them bring up old allegations of excessive force against Sydnor to try to prove he has a violent history.

On Monday, Simandle ruled he would consider three or four former cases against Sydnor that occurred in Atlantic City casinos.

According to Bonjean, the judge will look at those cases because there is video evidence in each one.

Two cases the judge will not look at involve allegations Sydnor stabbed a man four times in 1996 and another in which a woman claims he followed her into her home and forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2006.

Sydnor pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the 1996 incident.

Bonjean said she believes the judge will not look at those two incidents because he does not want to relitigate old cases.

“We’re looking to introduce other bad acts by Sydnor as evidence of a pattern,” Bonjean said. “We would have liked that all these incidents be permissible, but I’m confident we will prove our case with the incidents that are chosen as evidence.”

Glickman said he was pleased with the judge’s decision but wishes that all the incidents were barred from evidence.

“As far as we are concerned, they are all irrelevant,” Glickman said. “They have nothing to do with what happened in this case.”

The excessive-force allegations in Atlantic City casinos the judge is looking at involved patrons at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and Harrah’s Resort.

In one case, a man claims Sydnor arrested him and then dumped him on the side of the road.

If a jury finds Sydnor liable for excessive force, the trial will move to a second phase that will try to decide whether Atlantic City purposely turned a blind eye toward allegations of excessive force.

Bonjean said she is confident the trial will make it to the second phase.

The trial involving Anthony Moore is scheduled to begin May 14.

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