This article was in today's Sac Bee (CA). I did a quick search for any previous articles about the original arrest/arrestee but came up empty.
Here's the link but it requires reg to read www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/14098561p-14928392c.html
NorCal_LEO - Have you heard anything about this?
Suit over arrest
Herb Collins spent months in jail before drug charges against him were dismissed. Now he is suing his accusers.
By Denny Walsh -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Saturday, January 21, 2006
Story appeared in Metro section, Page B1
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A south Sacramento man who spent nearly three months in jail before a judge dismissed charges against him has filed a federal lawsuit claiming police officers and county prosecutors wrongfully targeted him in a narcotics investigation.
Herb N. Collins claims in the suit that police officers raided his home last Feb. 1, terrorized his wife and two of his children, and arrested him on unfounded drug charges.
Because bail was set at $500,000, the 49-year-old Collins was forced to stay in jail until his preliminary hearing April 19.
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"At that time," according to the suit, "the real evidence surfaced and some of the city police defendants' misstatements and omissions were broug
ht to light, leading to the dismissal of the criminal action ... by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gerald Bakarich."
The civil rights suit, filed Wednesday by attorney Stewart Katz on behalf of Collins and his wife, Rebecca Williams Collins, names as defendants the city; Sacramento Police Detective Kevin Patton; now-retired Officer John Trefethen; officers Michelle Schrum, Frank Reyes and Paul Schindler; police clerk Patricia Cassidy; Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully; and Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Leonard.
The suit alleges unreasonable search and seizure of property, false arrest and malicious prosecution, and seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages.
Police Department spokesman Terrell Marshall referred all questions to the City Attorney's Office.
"We have not been served with the complaint," City Attorney Eileen Teichert said Friday. "We want to review it, so we don't want to comment right now."
Lana Wyant, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, said Friday, "We haven't seen the lawsuit yet. So, until we see it, we really can't make any comment."
Collins said in a telephone interview that he was spotted by detectives in the company of a friend who was implicated in cocaine trafficking. It was on that basis, Collins said, that Patton obtained a warrant to search his home.
"It's the damnedest thing I've ever seen, and I'm almost 50 years old," Collins said.
Patton's affidavit in support of the warrant "was replete with significant misstatements and omissions, resulting in the improper issuance of the warrant," the suit alleges.
During what the suit alleges was the "ransacking and pillaging" of the home, "no drugs or drug paraphernalia were discovered. Moreover, drug-sniffing police canines were taken into the home and those canines confirmed the absence of any illicit drugs. Additionally, no paperwork or evidence was found suggesting, in any way, drug sales or use."
When officers entered the Collins home, Rebecca Collins and two children, ages 13 and 11, were held at gunpoint, the suit alleges.
Rebecca Collins, "who was wearing only her underwear (she was in the process of dressing for work at the time of the early morning raid) was handcuffed and made to lay face down in her living room in front of her children," the suit says.
"The children were screaming hysterically throughout the ordeal, so loudly that neighbors down the street reported hearing their cries."
Following Herb Collins' arrest, the suit contends, officers "employed wild speculation to mischaracterize the items seized."
For instance, police described paperwork relating to vehicle sales as indicative of drug sales, the suit says. It says Collins was a car salesman for nearly eight years before his arrest.
Officers also characterized resealable plastic bags containing Rebecca Collins' sewing patterns as drug packaging materials.
The officers omitted from their reports any reference to the canines' failure to detect even trace amounts of contraband, the suit says, and they withheld laboratory results confirming that drugs seized from the home were, in fact, prescription medication.
An air-powered BB gun belonging to Collins' 11-year-old son was described by officers as a firearm.
"In addition to these falsifications and gross exaggerations, the city police defendants also failed to provide exculpatory evidence to the district attorney and court," the suit claims.
For example, it says, "they suppressed critical witness statements and investigation reports" that confirmed the noncriminal nature of Collins' activities while under police surveillance.
Among the materials withheld was a statement containing exculpatory evidence taken from a witness who passed a polygraph examination administered by police investigators, the suit alleges.
Collins' vehicle, a 1997 Mercedes-Benz 500 SL, was seized in connection with the drug charges. Even though the charges were dismissed, the Police Department and Leonard turned the vehicle over to the lender, Patelco Credit Union.
Collins was current on his car payments and had a substantial amount of equity in the vehicle, and he is the registered owner. According to the suit, the public officials released the car to Patelco at the urging of Melvin Bell, a Patelco employee.
Bell and the credit union are both named as defendants.
"Patelco unlawfully and illegally obtained possession of Collins' vehicle and has refused to return it or the equity," the suit alleges.
Bell did not respond to a request for comment left at his office.
Collins' arrest and incarceration left him in a financial bind, and he received some assistance from a longtime friend in Phoenix, the suit relates.
Sacramento police officers learned of this and contacted Arizona law enforcement officers who informed the friend that his financial aid to Collins put him at risk of being prosecuted on drug charges, the suit says.
About the writer:
* The Bee's Denny Walsh can be reached at (916) 321-1189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wow. Tag. Someone is lying their ass of in this one.
I work dope and I think something's fishy about this story. There are too many things that just don't add up.
For example, the story says that due to the plaintiff being in the company of the cocaine dealer, the warrant was issued. I don't know of a judge that would sign off on that warrant based on that as the PC.
It's likely that they have some evidence against him but I suspect that it's not enough to make a good case in court.....so the charges were dismissed. Just because charges are dismissed doesn't mean that the person wasn't guilty. It just means that the DA/PA doesn't feel that he/she can win the case.
Unfortunately the city will probably settle out of court. 30-50% will go to the bottom feeder attorney and the rest will go to the plaintiff. The attorney's happy and the media reports that justice was done.
I certainly hope that the cops did nothing wrong. I used to know a dope cop who was crooked as the day was long. She made bad cases and eventually no one would have anything to do with her. She got fired and there are rumours of a criminal case against her. I'm just happy she's gone!
sounds like a mistake by morons to me, i mean anyone who would do that intentionally would have no problem manufacturing some evidence too
and why can't the cops make this kind of mistake with me? It's like winning the lottery, for realz.
"Collins was current on his car payments and had a substantial amount of equity in the vehicle""Shit, I've got 1600 a month in auto payments and have 0 equity how the hell did he manage that.
I hammer nails for a living so my opinion doesnt mean much. But there are drug dealers that dont do drugs or even possesse them. They just set up a deal every once in a while and never touch the product. Or it could be some overzealous detective work. It will be interesting to follow this story and see what happens.
The main problem with knowing what went on is that the article has nothing but the statements of Collins and his attorney. It is just a tad one sided, as all lawsuits are. Even the part about why a search warrant was obtained is the suspect's statement. Since he mentioned nothing that could be remotely close to Probable Cause, I tend to think that he left a lot out if he even knows to begin with. A case always looks good when you only hear one side and all that is in this article is one side as told by a lawyer that has a lot to gain and almost nothing to lose except his time.
All that is needed to serve a search warrant or make an arrest is Probable Cause. If PC did exist without the officers making up information, then on the face of it, nothing is wrong. From there, it is up to the DA to decide to hold the guy for court.
Due to the fact that a judge had to sign a warrant, the DA took the guy to court and his bond was set at half a million, I believe that Collins and his attorney are leaving out some important details. Like, what was he charged with? Just serving a search warrant is not enough to make an arrest. There had to be some kind of evidence for the DA to hold the guy for trial other than just, he was "in the company of a friend who was implicated in cocaine trafficking".
If this was a cover up of some kind by the police, then it was far reaching. He names 8 people in his lawsuit. That is an awful lot of people to get involved in some kind of scam by the police. If it was misconduct, I could believe that one or two officers lied about the information needed for a search warrant and then rest of the officers, clerks and assistant district attorneys were just going by the bogus evidence they were given.
Either the police has some serious problems in this case or it is a typical lawyer deal where you claim all kinds of heinous violations and hope to settle out of court for some money. I bet this is settled out of court and nothing will happen to the officers. If that is the case, it would pretty much exonerate the officers and district attorneys. If the case proves to be true police or prosecutor misconduct, I hope and would think that some firings and prosecutions are in store for the officers and attorneys.
To answer the original question, "what went wrong",,, maybe nothing at all. Just a bunch of rantings by a guy and his attorney......... or the rest of the police are going to get a black eye because of a couple of morons. Time will tell.
Not much to go on from the article. But to prove maliciousness from both the police and the prosecutors is a high hurdle. Especially since they managed to get the judge to sign off on warrants and issue a 500,000 bond. I imagine they'd have to go pretty far to get some LEO or DCA to roll. Providing of course that's what happened. I doubt it though. That seems like a huge conspiricy to nail a nobody.
With what I have seen from the justice system in the past two months, nothing would surprise me.
I'm not LEO, but that part really stuck out in the article. To me at least. I figured there had to be a lot more than that to get a warrant.
But the charges weren't dropped by the DA, they were dismissed by the judge.
Does that happen very often and us non LEO just don't hear about those cases?
NorCal_Leo says he knows (professionally I assume) the judge in the case, and it doesn't sound like the judge is a liberal, left winger.
I conduct/participate in many warrants. I have had some negative warrants and that goes along with the job. I can't see why the guy was arrested from this story but it is entirely one sided, what you are reading is the lawyers complaints against the police, you are not getting the whole story. There is no Judge that would sign a warrant without probable cause and this story, as it reads, has none.You also aren't getting the the criminal background of the man in question and the lawyer will always make them look like a saint and the officers as sinners.I will hold my opinion until the whole story is out and we will never hear that.
It happens. Not a huge percentage of the time but it is not a rare instance either. Even in trial you rarely see all of the information available to the police or the prosecutors. If you ever have a chance to sit on a grand jury, you are likely to see a lot of evidence brought up in a felony case that will never make it to trial.
The very first tactic of an criminal defense attorney is to attack the reasons why the police got a warrant, made a detention, made an arrest, etc. According to the laws in the state where it took place it may be by a motion to suppress evidence, a motion to dismiss charges or something similar.
For example, it the police pull over a vehicle and later find a kilo of cocaine, the first thing a lawyer is likely to attack is that the police had no reason to stop the car in the first place. If the officers did have a reason for the stop, then the lawyer will attack the reason for the search. Like, maybe you did catch my client running a stop sign but you then had no reason to search his car after you made a lawful stop.
It is not hard to prove that the guy had dope in the car as long as all the rules were followed. Even when officers are following all the rules as they know them, a judge just might not agree with their conclusions. Nothing might have been done improper, it is just a different opinion by a judge. On appearls courts, you will see judges split down the middle on decisions. Most US Supreme Court rulings come down to a 5-4 vote. They have years to debate a decision where an officer has a very limited time frame. Even when an officer loses a case on appeal, you will find many judges agreeing with that was done.
The bottom line is that just because a case was dismissed does not mean that the police did anything improper or illegal. They might have done something wrong but you cannot draw that conclusion just because a case was tossed by a judge.
It's a rare thing to have a judge dismiss a case like that. It would be interesting to know why he did it. Bad stop? Some sort of procedural screw-up on the DCA's part? Bad warrant? Like I said above, there's just not enough info here to say.
It also doesn't say if there was an indictment by a grand jury or prelim hearing. That's something I'd like to know. Too much info not availible.
I would also like to point out that for this case to have even gone to trial a Judge must have found probable cause for the arrest in a preliminary hearing or a Grand jury handed down a True Bill. It is not uncommon at all for a Judge to dismiss charges, for example, just this morning I was in court for a preliminary hearing where I was a surveillance officer and I testified that I viewed the defendant purchase suspect controlled substance (rock cocaine) from a juvinile. When I called in the enforcement officers, the defendand tossed one zip lock bag containing suspect rock cocaine to the ground and was arrested for possession of a controlled substance. The Judge found No probable cause for the arrest, don't be shocked, this happens all the time with the buyers. Even though it's a felony the Judge is King in his court and has his own reasons to consider his ruleing. Such as overloading the courts with a one rock case.
Equity in a car means ne was rollin on 20s with spinners, air bags and a trunk full of subs.
That's why I always find it ironic when LEOs are watching a football/basketball/etc game and you see them complaining about the officiating.
Yep. No problem with complaining about the call. Either in court or a game. But in the game, just like in court, the ruling stands.