Man accuses York police of illegal search in lawsuit

A West Manchester Township man is suing York City and officers of its police department after he claims his rights were violated when he was taken into custody in December.

In a federal lawsuit filed Feb. 4, Victor Ukadike Ezeibe alleges that multiple York City Police officers pointed guns at him and searched him outside a Turkey Hill on West Market Street on Dec. 17.

“He’s never seriously been in trouble with the law before," Leticia Chavez-Freed, Ezeibe's attorney,  said Friday, Feb. 22.

Chavez-Freed released a video of the incident to The York Dispatch on Friday, which shows an officer giving commands to Ezeibe.

Chavez-Freed said that she doesn't believe the officers are bad people, just not trained properly.

"I think they need to be better," she said.

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich on Friday said the facts are in the city's favor.

"I believe that once the evidence is reviewed our officers will be cleared of any wrongdoing," he said in a statement. "We cannot comment further on ongoing legal matters."

Lawsuit: According to Ezeibe's lawsuit, he was followed by an officer from the Shell gas station on Roosevelt Avenue to the Turkey Hill the night of Dec. 16.

When he parked the vehicle, an officer shouted for him to stay in his car, the lawsuit alleges. Ezeibe alleges he was then surrounded by four or five police cruisers.

An officer told Ezeibe to drop his keys, and three other officers approached him with guns, according to the suit.

Ezeibe was ordered to exit the car, and he was handcuffed. The suit alleges he was searched and then put in the back of a police car while officers searched his vehicle.

He suffered a cut when officers escorted him from the cruiser, according to the suit. When he called York City Police three days later, the department had no record of the incident, Ezeibe alleges.

Ezeibe's lawsuit states that his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was violated. 

Chavez-Freed said Ezeibe, a pharmacist from Nigeria, was getting ice cream for his children that night.

"He never made it into that store. He was horrified," she said.

The suit states Ezeibe has endured mental suffering, including panic attacks, since the incident on Dec. 16. On Friday, the attorney said the amount of money Ezeibe is seeking has not yet been determined.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.