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Archive for Friday, October 9, 1992

MISTAKEN IDENTITY WORKS BOTH WAYS IN LAWSUIT

October 9, 1992

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A case of mistaken identity has struck twice in a lawsuit filed by a local attorney against the city of Lawrence and one of its police officers.

The attorney, Don Strole, filed the case in Douglas County District Court on Tuesday. Strole is representing Giles Andre Smith, who is suing the city and a police officer for an alleged false arrest on June 9. Smith claims he was arrested by an officer who thought Smith was another person with the same first and last name. The other Giles Smith is wanted for a breach of probation in Louisiana, according to the suit.

Strole's original lawsuit named an officer Othick as a defendant. But the police department has two officer Othicks Wayne, and his son, Darren. That prompted Strole to file an amended lawsuit Wednesday listing the officer as "John Doe."

STROLE said Smith was out of town and unavailable to tell him which Othick arrested him. Strole said he would learn the officer's identity during his discovery by checking police reports.

According to the suit, Smith's case began at 1 a.m. June 8 when he was stopped by police while riding his bicycle north on Massachusetts Street. When Smith asked the officer why he was stopped, Smith claims the officer allegedly replied, "We've had some burglaries in the area." The suit states that Smith gave his identification to the officer, who checked it and let Smith go.

Strole contends that the stop was an "unreasonable seizure" that violated Smith's constitutional rights.

Smith's and the same officer's paths allegedly crossed a second time at about midnight June 9, according to the suit. Smith was attending a party at 1411 Ky. when he claims the officer walked up on the porch to say another officer had warned them about the noise.

SMITH SAID, "Good evening, officer," to the policeman. The officer allegedly asked Smith his name, and Smith replied, "Giles Smith." The officer then arrested Smith, according to the suit, telling him he had breached his probation in Louisiana.

Smith claims his identification was checked by the officer before he was taken into custody. At the police station, Smith contends he was taken to a questioning room while "officer John Doe" spoke to his supervisor and verified Smith's identification. At no time was he read his Miranda rights, according to the suit. Smith said he was in custody about 1 hours before he was released.

Smith is seeking more than $50,000 from the city and officer John Doe for negligence, unlawful restraint, false arrest, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of mental distress, assault and violations of his constitutional rights.

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