Investigation: Questions raised over $300,000 Philly settlement with taxpayer money

The DA's office, Khasandra Franklin's civil attorney, and Anthony Voci all declined to comment on the story.

ByChad Pradelli and Cheryl Mettendorf WPVI logo
Friday, May 26, 2023
Questions raised over $300K Philly settlement with taxpayer money
In 2021, the city of Philadelphia settled a lawsuit with Khasandra Franklin for $300,000, but her driving record and a DUI last year are now raising questions.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In 2021, the city of Philadelphia settled a lawsuit with a woman who claimed she was falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted in a road rage case involving an assistant district attorney.

But the woman's driving record and a DUI last year are now raising questions about the city's settlement.

Around 4:30 a.m. on September 16, 2022, Pennsylvania State Police administered a field sobriety test on Khasandra Franklin after police said she drove the wrong way on I-76, which resulted in a head-on collision.

"You're arrested for DUI," said the officer in exclusive dashcam video obtained by the investigative team.

And during her drive to jail, dashcam video captured this:

"You're going to jail," said the officer.

"I gotta good lawyer," replied Franklin.

The video shows Franklin who repeatedly cursed and berated state troopers and threatened to sue.

"I am calling internal affairs right now, that's how I won last time. Google me. Khasandra Franklin," she said. "Sued every last part of Philadelphia under Krasner. I sued all of you and won."

Dee Ruffin Coates said her car was totaled in the accident. She suffered back and neck injuries. Stunned and injured she said Franklin ran up to her car screaming incoherently.

"'You're coming the wrong way on the interstate,'" Ruffin Coates said she told Franklin. "I'm like, 'You're going westbound on the eastbound side.' I said, 'What's wrong with you?'" she added.

That civil lawsuit Franklin mentioned on her way to jail is connected to her arrest in September of 2020 and her subsequent lawsuit against the city alleging assault and battery by the arresting police officer, false imprisonment, and abuse of process.

It involved Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Anthony Voci.

He told police Franklin tried to run him off the road on Kelly Drive. He claimed he tried to prevent her from leaving the scene at a stop light so he could call police. She took off. He called police who responded to her home and hours later arrested her.

Franklin was charged with aggravated assault among other charges and spent a night in jail. She denied the allegations and claimed Voci called her and her friend Black (expletive), according to her lawsuit. It's a claim Voci denied.

Prosecutors withdrew the charges under the condition Franklin undergoes a drug and alcohol evaluation in a DUI case that was pending at the time. Franklin sued the city, which settled for $300,000.

That earlier DUI charge was for a crash in Hatboro.

And just a week after filing her civil suit against the city, Franklin was charged in a hit-and-run accident in Abington. She pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and to the first DUI after receiving her settlement.

"He said you know she was definitely intoxicated," Karen Lebens told the investigative team.

In that 2020 DUI case, Franklin crashed in the Hatboro neighborhood outside Lebens' home. Lebens said her husband helped her get out of her overturned car.

"He just was trying to get her to calm down, you know, because she was a little excited," she said.

And during that arrest, Frankin also threatened to sue.

Charging documents say an agitated and resistive Franklin told an officer: "No Bleep...I'll sue you" when asked if she'd undergo a breath test.

"She needs to be off the road," added Ruffin Coates.

The Action News Investigative Team analyzed city settlement records and specifically civil rights lawsuits.

We found her $300,000 payout was the city's fourth largest for police assault and battery settlements over the past six years. And more than five times the average settlement of $56,000.

The top payout? $500,000 for a wrongful police shooting of a man who eventually died.

Followed by $450,000 for a man who claimed police ran him over with a police cruiser and broke his pelvis.

And, $350,000 was paid to a man who said an officer smashed him head-first into the pavement, causing a broken nose and multiple teeth.

In her lawsuit, Franklin claimed an unnamed sergeant struck her without provocation and caused her cell phone to hit her and fall to the ground. The lawsuit does not mention medical attention. She spent one night in jail.

And her payment was swift, just 85 days after the lawsuit was served.

Our investigation found the average time for a case settlement to be roughly two years.

We tried to ask Franklin about her driving record earlier this year outside court during a hearing for her 2022 DUI case on I-76.

"You're driving the wrong way on I-76 and you're threatening to sue them on scene?" asked Action News investigative reporter Chad Pradelli.

"It raises questions about that settlement," he added.

"No worries, I am going to file some more," replied Franklin.

"You're going to file some more lawsuits?" asked Pradelli.

"I didn't do anything wrong in that first case. I was followed home, I didn't even do anything," she added.

In budget hearings last month, City Council President Darrell Clarke voiced concerns about city settlements.

City Solicitor Diana Cortes pushed back saying they want to go to trial but highlighted an issue of manpower.

"If there is more investment in more attorneys then I think there would be a lesser caseload for each attorney," said Cortes.

The DA's office, Franklin's civil attorney, and Anthony Voci all declined to comment on the story.