A U.S. postal delivery man who said he was injured when an Arlington County police officer mistook him for a rape suspect and slammed him against a wall has filed a $450,000 damage suit against the policeman and former Arlington County Board chairman Dorothy T. Grotos.

According to court papers filed Friday in federal court in Alexandria, Thomas Leroy Gant was delivering mail to the Tara Apartments, 4201 Lee Highway, on Jan. 16, 1979, when he was accosted by the officer, Stephen J. DePrenda, and accused of being a rapist.

Gant claimed DePrenda then took him to the building's eighth floor and presented him to an unidentified apartment resident as "a rapist," according to a suit.

After the resident denied that Gant was the suspect, he was released by DePrenda, the suit said.

Gant claimed that by being "spun around . . . (and) shoved" into a wall, "patted down," and then led against his will to the eighth floor apartment, he was denied his constitutional rights to freedom from harm, illegal search, false arrest, and physical abuse, according to court papers.

Grotos was named in the suit because the police department is an "employe" of the county board, which she formerly headed, according to court papers.

DePrenda could not be reached for comment. Grotos denied knowledge of the incident.

The suit seeks $150,000 compensation for unspecified back injuries Gant said he suffered, and $200,000 in punitive damages.