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The City of Philadelphia has been hit with a civil rights suit by the parents of a man who was stabbed to death just minutes after asking police to protect him from a next-door neighbor who had threatened his life when he caught the man burglarizing his apartment. According to the suit, Rodney Wayne Mustard told Officer Christopher Krause that he knew the burglar, Angel Pacheco, and could point out the apartment where he lived in Krause’s building. But Krause told him “that he was intoxicated and to go back inside his apartment,” the suit says. When Mustard complained that “the police never do anything,” the suit alleges, Krause told him “that if he did not go inside, [Krause] would lock [him] up for disorderly conduct.” On an incident report, Krause declared the call from Mustard to be “unfounded.” Soon after Krause left, Mustard was attacked by Pacheco who had been waiting in his own apartment for the police to leave. Mustard staggered to the bar across the street in search of help. As he lay on the floor bleeding to death, he gasped out a response to police that named “Angel, the guy who lives next door,” as the man who stabbed him. Later that day, Mustard was pronounced dead of a stab wound to the heart. Attorneys Alan L. Yatvin and Howard D. Popper of Popper & Yatvin filed suit in U.S. District Court yesterday on behalf of Mustard’s mother, Eunice Mustard of Clinton, Tenn., naming Krause and the City of Philadelphia as defendants. “Krause caused [Mustard's] death by ordering [him] back into the apartment building where his fate awaited him, and by failing to honestly take [his] complaint, investigate that complaint and take Angel Pacheco into custody,” the suit alleges. In a series of allegations clearly designed to meet the new test for establishing a “state-created danger,” Yatvin and Popper argue that “Krause acted in willful disregard of Rodney Mustard’s safety and bodily integrity” and that the officer “knew that Rodney Mustard’s life was in danger, and that [Krause's] conduct increased the danger to Rodney Mustard.” By answering a radio call, the suit says, “Krause had a duty not to order [Mustard] back into the place where he was in the most danger … [and] a duty to conduct himself in such a fashion as to avoid increasing the danger to Rodney Mustard and leaving him exposed to those who threatened to kill him if he called the police.” Krause’s conduct, the suit says, “was shocking to the conscious, reckless and deliberately indifferent.” The suit also accuses the city of promoting the very sort of laziness and negligence among police that Krause displayed on the day of Mustard’s death. “The practice engaged in by Krause of minimizing complaints, failing to meaningfully investigate legitimate complaints of persons in danger, and then preparing paperwork to conceal their failure to investigate and take appropriate police action, had for years prior to Oct. 10, 1998, been rampant within the Philadelphia Police Department,” the suit alleges. “The practice of ‘going down’ on crime – downgrading major offenses against persons and property – was widespread within the department, and was routinely employed by officers, like Krause who were too lazy or too jaundiced to carry out their duty as police officers,” the suit says. Yatvin and Popper argue that “going down” – as practiced by Krause – was “a custom so pervasive and of such longstanding, that it constituted the policy of the Philadelphia Police Department.” As a result, they argue, the City of Philadelphia “caused the injuries to and death of Rodney Wayne Mustard by its years of permitting, approving, encouraging and rewarding officers like defendant Krause who ‘go down’ on crime, and by intentionally turning a blind eye to this practice.” The case, Mustard v. Krause et al., 00-cv-3788, has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin.

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