Denver Authorizes Settlement with ACLU over Mistaken ID Arrests

Affiliate: ACLU of Colorado
December 2, 2014 4:45 pm

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DENVER – Last night, the Denver City Council voted to authorize a $337,250 settlement to compensate three ACLU clients who were the victims of mistaken identity arrests by Denver law enforcement. The City of Denver previously paid $232,000 in compensation to three additional people named in the same suit. In each case, the ACLU argued that Denver police deliberately ignored facts that demonstrated that they were arresting or causing the arrest of the wrong person and that Denver Sheriff Department deputies refused to investigate obvious red flags and repeated complaints from plaintiffs and their family that they were locking up the wrong person.

Statement of ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein:

The ACLU of Colorado is encouraged that the Denver City Council has now authorized $337,250 to compensate three innocent victims of mistaken ID arrests carried out by Denver law enforcement.

The mistaken ID arrests were a result of a widespread policy and practice of tolerating egregious mistakes, where a warrant for one person resulted in a different person being arrested. In the course of discovery in this long-pending lawsuit, the ACLU of Colorado documented more than 500 occasions in a seven-year period in which persons were wrongly arrested and imprisoned in Denver’s jails. Some persons spent weeks in jail wrongly imprisoned on warrants for others. Some wound up pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit, in order to secure release for “time served.”

Arrests carry serious consequences. Beyond the time spent in jail away from work and family, people who are arrested can lose their jobs and be labeled as criminals in their community. It’s critically important that when law enforcement chooses to arrest someone, they have firm practices and safeguards in place to ensure that they arrest the right person.

Since the filing of this suit more than five years ago, the ACLU of Colorado has been working with the City of Denver to develop improved law enforcement policies that will reduce the frequency of mistaken ID arrests, and, when mistakes do happen, that will detect them promptly and remedy them quickly.


Read the original release from the filing of the suit:

Visit the case page, which contains documents and links to news coverage of the mistaken ID arrests:

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