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Bad affidavit is the source of lawsuit against former officers

A resident of a Pittsburgh suburb whose drug charges were thrown out after it was proven the arresting police officers lied on the arrest affidavit has filed a lawsuit against the officers and the City of Pittsburgh. In the lawsuit, the man says his Constitutional rights were violated by the arrest, which revealed dozens of false arrest affidavits filed by the officers but no criminal charges against either man.

In our Dec. 15, 2011 blog post, we discussed the accused officers' July 2010 arrest of the plaintiff at a Pittsburgh car wash. Though one of the officers claimed on an affidavit that he and his partner saw the plaintiff exchange drugs with another man, surveillance footage from the car wash showed that no such exchange took place. During an investigation into the incident, the officers admitted that the affidavit contained several factual errors and the officer who "wrote" the statement simply copied his partner's notes.

Prosecutors dropped drug charges against the plaintiff and the other arrested man, as well as charges in 13 other cases where the officers' testimony was the sole evidence against the defendants. One conviction was overturned for the same reason. One of the officers, who has since retired from the Pittsburgh police force, was put on trial for perjury and obstruction of the administration of law but was found not guilty on Dec. 7. Charges against the other officer were dismissed.

The civil suit says the officers violated the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, and that the officers used excessive force and made an unlawful arrest. The plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Man sues Pittsburgh, 2 cops over dropped drug charge," Rich Lord, March 20, 2012

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