Royal Oak — A Royal Oak man has filed a federal lawsuit against two court officers he claims assaulted him — causing him to defecate — after the man attempted to pay a parking ticket with rolled pennies.
Anthony Sevy, 33, alleges the incident happened on Feb. 13, when he went to the 44th District Court in the city to pay a $10 parking ticket. A court clerk informed Sevy of his payment options, noting the court charged a $1.75 processing fee for debit card payments, according to the lawsuit filed Nov. 22 in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan. The clerk also said coin payments were accepted as long as they were rolled.
The civil complaint says Sevy then left and returned later that day with rolled pennies to “symbolically protest the 44th District Court’s payment policies.”
Sevy’s attorney, Jonathan Marko, said the court clerk did not want to accept the pennies.
There was then a verbal exchange between Sevy, the court clerk and court officers that led to 44th District Court Officers Philip Barach and Harold Marshall asking Sevy to leave the premise, Marko said. The lawsuit names Barach and Marshall as defendants.
When Sevy tried to leave the courthouse, Barach and Marshall allegedly followed him to the exit doors. Barach grabbed Sevy from behind, choked him and threw him to the ground so hard that Sevy defecated himself, according to the lawsuit.
Sevy was arrested and taken to a holding cell for more than 24 hours in the 44th District Court, according to the attorney.
Marko said it’s unclear exactly what was said before the alleged assault against Sevy.
“Just because there is a verbal exchange doesn’t give an officer a right to brutalize you,” Marko said. “The whole basis of freedom of speech is people have a right to say things that you might not like.”
Sevy, who is a real estate broker, was charged with assaulting a police officer and disturbing the peace, Marko said.
The assault charge was eventually dropped in a plea agreement that required Sevy to plead no contest to disturbing the peace, Marko said.
Marko said Sevy accepted the plea agreement “out of fear and threat from the court system” and avoiding a felony— assaulting a police officer— on his record.
Gary Dodge, an administrator for the 44th District Court, declined to comment on the case.
Royal Oak city attorney David Gillam also declined to comment. However, the city would be responsible for paying any monetary damages awarded against court employees, Gillam said.
The lawsuit is not seeking a specific amount of money but says Sevy would like “an amount that is just and fair and award costs, interest and attorney fees as well as punitive, exemplary or hedonic damages.”
Sevy suffered head trauma, mental anguish, denial of social pleasures, embarrassment and incurred medical bills from the incident, according to the complaint.
“The emotional scars will never heal from this,” Marko said. “We are going to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”