Crime Man who spent 20 years in prison can sue SF police over false evidence claims

17:45  15 may  2018
17:45  15 may  2018 Source:   sfgate.com

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SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A man who spent 20 years in jail for a murder he didn’t commit cannot Caldwell claimed the key witness who identified him as the shooter was tainted by suggestive In April 2012, Caldwell sued the city of San Francisco and three police officers – Kitt Crenshaw, Arthur

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a man standing in a room: After 20 years behind bars, Maurice Caldwell is released from San Francisco County Jail March 28, 2011.© Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc After 20 years behind bars, Maurice Caldwell is released from San Francisco County Jail March 28, 2011. A San Francisco man who spent 20 years in prison for murder before his conviction was overturned can sue police for allegedly manipulating a key witness and falsifying evidence, a federal appeals court has ruled.

A jury convicted Maurice Caldwell of second-degree murder for the fatal shooting of a man named Judy Acosta after an argument over drugs at the Alemany housing projects in June 1990. The chief prosecution witness, Mary Cobbs, identified Caldwell as the shooter.

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An Indiana man who spent 10 years in prison for an armed robbery that he didn’t commit has sued the local police department, claiming they fabricated false evidence to convict him.

She told police a man who lived nearby had hurt her, and eventually, under questioning by the prosecutor at trial, identified Payne as the attacker. Transgender woman allowed to sue SF over alleged discrimination.

Caldwell was serving a sentence of 27 years to life when a Superior Court judge released him from prison in 2011 after finding that his trial lawyer had represented him incompetently and damaged his chances for an acquittal. The judge, who based his decision on arguments by the Northern California Innocence Project, also barred a retrial after finding that critical evidence had been destroyed.

Caldwell is suing San Francisco and its police over their interactions with Cobbs, who died while he was in prison. According to his suit, police Sgt. Kitt Crenshaw grabbed Caldwell on the street, brought him to Cobbs’ door and identified him to her by his name and nickname, “Twone.”

Cobbs, when interviewed earlier about the crime she had witnessed, told police she did not know the shooter by name. But about two weeks later, she picked Caldwell out of a photo lineup and said she had heard people use the nickname.

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Caldwell’s lawyers also said in the suit that their client and Crenshaw had a history of run-ins. Caldwell had filed a complaint about the officer with a city commission five months before the murder, and Crenshaw admitted to investigators that he had told Caldwell he would catch him with a gun and “I’m going to kill you.”

The suit also claimed Crenshaw had fabricated statements he made to the officer during the murder investigation. Caldwell said he had told Crenshaw, under questioning, that he knew nothing about the killing and had been elsewhere, but Crenshaw said in his report that Caldwell admitted being present at the shooting and expected to be blamed because he had been a shooter in the past.

U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth Laporte dismissed Caldwell’s suit in 2016, ruling that his account of Crenshaw’s actions, even if true, was irrelevant because the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Alfred Giannini, had made an independent decision to file the murder charge. But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reinstated the suit on Friday and said a jury should decide whether the officer had tried to frame Caldwell.

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An Indiana man who spent 10 years in prison for an armed robbery that he didn’t commit has sued the local police department, claiming they fabricated false evidence to convict him.

RT.com. Ricky Jackson, who spent 39 years in jail for a murder he did not commit, is suing the police officers who allegedly helped frame him. Too many people have been sent to prison wrongfully based on bogus identifications.” Jackson, now 58 years old, was exonerated of the murder in

Cobbs’ identification of Caldwell was “a crucial piece of evidence” that the prosecutor relied on in deciding to file the charges, Judge A. Wallace Tashima said in the 3-0 ruling. He said Giannini had also reviewed Crenshaw’s allegedly falsified notes of Caldwell’s statements before filing charges.

“A prosecutor’s judgment cannot be said to be independent where the prosecutor considers potentially fabricated evidence without knowing that the evidence might be fundamentally compromised,” Tashima said.

Terry Gross, a lawyer for Caldwell, said he was pleased to have the opportunity “to get a trial and get long-awaited compensation for Mr. Caldwell for his 20 years of wrongful imprisonment.”

He said Caldwell has had a hard time adjusting to life outside prison, where he suffered physical injuries, but now lives in Sacramento and makes public appearances as an advocate for wrongfully convicted people.

Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: begelko@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @BobEgelko

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