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A Leland man has filed a federal lawsuit against the town of Leland and two of its former police officers who arrested him two years ago.
Darryl Langley claims the two officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights during his arrest. He said he was working at his home June 20, 2011, when the officers escorted Aimee Coleman, Langley’s former girlfriend, her father, Coleman’s current boyfriend and another friend into Langley’s home.
According to the lawsuit, Officer Howard Smith threatened and insulted Langley before telling Langley he had a warrant for his arrest. Smith failed to present Langley with a copy of the order, which is against state law, according to the lawsuit.
During Langley’s arrest, the officers allowed Aimee Coleman to take anything she wanted out of Langley’s residence without any evidence as to the ownership of the items, according to the suit, and the officers refused to share any details about the “supposed warrant for arrest.” The lawsuit says the officers did not try to contact Langley or his landlord to get permission to enter his home as required.
Smith and Andrew Correll “used their cloak of authority as police officers to secure their unlawful entrance, and that of civilians with them, into (Langley’s) residence without any legal authority and without (Langley’s) consent,” the lawsuit reads.
Langley said he was handcuffed and placed in Smith’s patrol car on a day when the high temperature exceeded 100 degrees. He said he was forced to sit in the back of the patrol car with his hands cuffed behind his back with minimal to no air conditioning for nearly an hour.
During that hour, the officers permitted Coleman, her boyfriend, another friend, and Coleman’s father to take items from Langley’s home. The officers assisted in taking the items from the home, according to the suit.
The officers took Langley to the Brunswick County jail for a criminal summons on a worthless check. Deputies immediately released Langley and said he had been “falsely arrested,” according to the suit.
Langley alleges the town refused to investigate the items taken from his home or allow him to file a police report for the items, something he said he tried to do three times.
“None of these officers and officials with the Leland Police Department would allow Mr. Langley to file a police report, and none of them would provide Mr. Langley a reason for those refusals,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the items taken from Langley’s home are worth more than $10,000. It asks for at least that much money to cover the cost of the items taken, punitive damages and attorney fees.
“Under the U.S. Constitution and state law, we are all guaranteed the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure by the police,” said Katy Parker, Darryl Langley’s lawyer. “There is no place where this right is more precious than in our own homes.”
Leland Police Chief Mike James, who was not in charge of the department at the time of Langley’s arrest, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
No other town officials could be reached for comment.
Smith and Correll no longer work for the Leland Police Department. Correll resigned in November 2012 after being cited for affray in a fight outside a Wilmington bar. Smith resigned this year on May 7, just a few days after Langley sent the town a letter saying he was wrongfully arrested by the officers. Langley’s letter was not cited as a reason for his resignation.
Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or email@example.com.