Civil Rights

9th Circuit OKs suit claiming police made man pretend to be taller, then arrested him

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Size does matter when it comes to executing arrest warrants. However, a federal judge gave short shrift to a civil rights suit claiming that law enforcement officers falsely arrested a California man after coercing him into claiming that he was five inches taller than he actually was.

Now a federal appeals court has revived the suit brought by Jose Ventura over a 2007 traffic stop in Chino that resulted in his arrest. Supported by a recording of the incident, Ventura, whose driver’s license showed that he was 5-feet, six-inches tall, contends that officers pressured him to “parrot back” that he was actually 5-feet, 11-inches tall, reports Courthouse News.

Then they arrested him.

At issue was a warrant for the arrest of another man named Jose Ventura who stood an inch over six feet and had a different social security number. Taken into custody under that warrant, the plaintiff spent nearly a week in jail before a judge released him because his fingerprints were not a match.

A federal district judge granted a motion for summary judgment by Los Angeles County and Chino, but the 9th Circuit said a genuine issue of material fact existed concerning whether law enforcement officers coerced Ventura into pretending to be taller.

“People gain and lose weight, but they do not shrink six or seven inches in height,” wrote Judge Morgan Christen in the appellate court’s opinion.

Ventura claimed violations of his Fourth Amendment and 14th Amendment rights, as well as conduct in contravention of the state’s Bane Act, which prohibits police from intimidating suspects.

See also: “Jailed based on mistaken identity, some who did nothing wrong are held days, weeks or months” “Mistakenly arrested again, at court hearing in earlier mistaken-arrest case, woman plans to sue”

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