Tort Law

Cleveland Prosecutor, Cops Sued Over Release of Suspect Later Accused of 11 Murders

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A wrongful death suit targets the city of Cleveland, several police officers and an assistant prosecutor for the release of a suspect later accused of killing 11 people.

The suit was filed on behalf of five of the victims found in the home of sex offender Anthony Sowell, according to the Associated Press and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Police released Sowell without charges, despite a woman’s complaint two days before that he had choked and tried to rape her, the lawsuit says. Six victims were killed after Sowell’s release, and the families of all but one are plaintiffs.

Police had deemed the complaining woman not credible, and didn’t check records that would have shown Sowell was a convicted rapist released from prison in 2005, according to the suit. Sowell is now charged with aggravated murder in the 11 deaths.

A lawyer for the families, Terry Gilbert, says the suit seeks to change the city’s policy of “straight release and indict later.” The AP and Plain Dealer stories differ on whether monetary damages are also being sought.

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