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Prisoner Sues Pizza Place He Tried to Rob

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A man who attempted to rob a pizza store is now suing the same restaurant. NBC10's Tim Furlong has the details. (Published Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014)

    A man is suing the same Delaware pizza place that he tried to rob several years ago.

    Nigel Sykes, 23, filed a lawsuit against Seasons Pizza as well as the police officers who arrested him four years ago, claiming he was assaulted and injured at the time. It is the latest in a string of unsuccessful complaints Sykes has filed since his 2010 arrest and subsequent guilty plea.

    "It's a mockery," said Andy Papanicolas, the Director of Operations at Seasons. "It's a joke for it to even make it to the courts. It's pretty pathetic."

    On Nov. 30, 2010, Sykes entered the Seasons Pizza restaurant on the 600 block of Maryland Avenue in Wilmington, police said. Sykes was armed with a gun and demanded money but was detained by several employees inside, according to police. During the struggle, the gun was discharged though no one was struck. He was eventually arrested by responding police officers.

    According to Delaware Online, Sykes was linked to at least eight other robberies at the time of his arrest.

    While serving time in February of the following year, Sykes filed a lawsuit, without an attorney, against both Seasons Pizza and the Delaware State Police. In the complaint, Sykes claimed he was forced by an unidentified person to rob Seasons Pizza.  Sykes stated he was knocked unconscious at least twice by employees at the restaurant and then shot several times with tasers by responding police officers.

    Sykes claimed he was escorted to a police vehicle and then punched in the stomach and head and then slammed against the trunk. In the complaint, Sykes sought compensatory damages of $100,000 from the Delaware State Police as well as $100,000 from Seasons Pizza, accusing them of “violating his civil rights.”

    The court dismissed Sykes’ complaint on May 9, 2011. An amended complaint was also dismissed after the court determined that he did not follow the proper processes.

    In July of 2011, Sykes pleaded guilty to charges against him in relation to the attempted robbery at Seasons as well as a previous robbery. He was sentenced in April of 2012 to 15 years for robbery and attempted robbery.

    In July of 2013, Sykes once again sued Seasons Pizza and the Delaware State Police, making the same allegations. His complaint was once again dismissed without prejudice.

    On Feb. 5, 2014, Sykes filed an amended complaint that was more detailed than the initial one and was also against the Newport Police Department and three officers rather than the Delaware State Police, in addition to Seasons Pizza.

    In the amended complaint, Sykes admitted that he entered the business and displayed a revolver handgun.

    “The defendant handed me $140,” Sykes wrote.

    Sykes then claimed he was grabbed by one of the employees as he tried to leave the store.

    “After a short struggle, the defendants successfully obtained the handgun from me,” he wrote. “That is when the assault began.”

    In the complaint, Sykes claimed the employees punched and kicked him and poured hot soup over his body.

    “I was unarmed and defenseless and had to suffer a brutal beating by all the employees of Seasons Pizza,” Sykes wrote.

    Sykes claimed he was eventually knocked unconscious and then assaulted by three responding Newport Police officers.

    “They handcuffed me behind my back,” Sykes wrote. “I was aroused from my state of unconsciousness only to realize that I was handcuffed and being tasered. I was tasered a total of three consecutive times while handcuffed.”

    In the lawsuit, Sykes claimed one of the officers called him a racial slur and that he was denied medical treatment despite paramedics being at the scene. Sykes claims he continues to suffer the effects of the beating, including bruises, headaches, contusions and burns.

    Sykes sued the Newport Police Department for $100,000, three Newport Police Officers for a total of $60,000, Seasons Pizza for $100,000 and six employees of Seasons Pizza for a total of $120,000.

    On April 17, the court dismissed the claims made against the Newport Police Department as well as one of the officers. However, the court also allowed Sykes to proceed on the assault claims against Seasons Pizza and its employees as well as the excessive force claims against the two other Newport officers.

    On July 16, attorneys for the two officers filed a motion to dismiss Sykes’ complaint.

    Executives at Seasons Pizza's corporate office say that everything that happened to Sykes was caused by his decision to rob the store. Newport Police Chief Michael Capriglione told NBC10 the lawsuit was a frivolous waste of taxpayer time and money.