March 12, 2015, (Louisville, KY) — In a settlement announced today, the Louisville Metro Government has agreed to pay $1.5 million to four young African American men who were racially profiled, falsely arrested and falsely imprisoned last March for crimes they did not commit. The four young men were represented by Gerhardstein & Branch along with Nick Brustin and local counsel Larry Simon and Jan Waddell.
“While we are grateful that we have reached a settlement on behalf of our clients, we remain troubled that the Louisville police continue to use discredited witness identification procedures that are known to produce bad results, especially when white victims are identifying black suspects,” said Nick Brustin, a partner with the civil rights law firm of Neufeld, Scheck and Brustin based in New York. “These false arrests were a result of the same unconstitutional identification practices that we uncovered in previous litigation in Louisville– practices which not only have been condemned by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, but which the police promised had ended in connection with our prior settlements.”
In June 2014 a Jefferson County grand jury declined to indict the “misidentified four, “as they were dubbed by supporters. But the arrest upended the lives of the young men “causing them to lose their jobs and fall behind on bills, derailing college plans for one and causing another to miss the birth of his first son. The incident has also further sown distrust of police in the black community at a time when police misconduct is the focus of a national conversation.
“Being wrongfully accused is pretty much a living nightmare,” said 21-year-old Craig Dean, who not only lost his job but had his car repossessed while he was in jail. “This day is really important to me and my cousins because finally we can prove to the world that we’re innocent. All we want now is to go on with our lives and pursue our dreams, just like anyone else.”
“This settlement recognizes that the arrests of these young men should not have happened, and our clients and their family now want to make sure it never happens again, “added Al Gerhardstein, a civil rights attorney based on Cincinnati and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “We call on the Metro Police to make good on their promise to mend their ways. They could start by making an apology to these blameless young men.”
The case arose on March 22, 2014, when Tyrone Booker Jr., Craig Dean, Jerron Bush and Shaquazz Allen “all cousins “were sitting on the front porch of Jerron’s home. A police car approached and an officer asked them to line up on the sidewalk. Moments later, while a police cruiser shone a bright light in their faces and they shielded their eyes, two white robbery victims sitting in the back of the cruiser drove by and identified them. All four men were arrested despite the fact that their clothing did not match the victim’s descriptions and the victims only identified some, but not all, of the men as perpetrators.
To make matters worse, after the young men’s photos were shown on the news that night, two other crime victims called police to accuse Tyrone and Shaquazz of attacking them during an incident of mob violence in downtown Louisville. The same day Tyrone and Shaquazz were released on bail for the robbery they did not commit, they were arrested for an assault they did not commit and spent months in jail. Cell phone records would later show they were nowhere near the scene of the assault.
“There is no excuse for this wrongful arrest, but there are steps Louisville can take to make sure this does not happen again,” said Louisville co-counsel Larry Simon. “Specifically, the police should simply follow their own identification procedures. Co-counsel Jan Waddell, also of Louisville, added, “We proved through cell phone records in the criminal case that these boys were not near the crime scene. If that strong evidence had not been available these suggestive identifications would have ruined their lives forever.”
Scientific studies have given an increasingly clear picture of the various factors that influence the accuracy of witness identifications. Just last week, The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended that law enforcement agencies adopt identification procedures that implement scientifically supported practices that eliminate or minimize the chances of presenter bias or influence.
Coverage from the Louisville Carrier Journal: 4 Wrongfully Arrested Men Blame Profiling