By Noah Barron
Daily Journal Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES - A man who was charged with armed
robbery is suing the city of Los Angeles, its Police Department, Chief
William J. Bratton and three detectives for holding him in custody for 27
months and allegedly suppressing evidence he claims they knew would have
Michael Walker's lawyers claim the only thing
he was guilty of was walking into the wrong store at the wrong time. The suit
alleges that the detectives "knew within the first week of his
arrest" that Walker was innocent.
The Los Angeles Police Department said it does
not comment on litigation in progress.
Deputy District Attorney Alison Myers,
who handled a portion of Walker's prosecution for robbery, said her office
also declined to comment.
The case stems from Walker's arrest in 2005,
when police were searching for a suspect in a spate of store robberies
involving a middle-aged black perpetrator who used a threatening "demand
note" to rob retail cashiers.
The lawsuit alleges that authorities continued
their investigation of Walker, 52, "despite the fact that they knew or
should have known that he was innocent" and that detectives destroyed a
closed-circuit video that showed a similar robbery taking place at a
restaurant on Aug. 19, 2005, after Walker was taken into custody. Walker
v. City of Los AngelesCV084707R (L.A. Super. Ct., filed July 18, 2008).
"This detective comes along and says,
'The "Demand Note" robberies have stopped,' and they didn't, and he
knew they didn't," said Walker's lawyer, John Burton of John
Burton Law Offices in Pasadena.
Walker also is represented by Maria
Cavalluzzi of Cavalluzzi & Cavalluzzi in Los
"Detectives are supposed to turn over all
the evidence, the good and the bad, and let the system work it out,"
Burton said. "Instead, certain detectives put their finger on the
Walker claims police misrepresented evidence
connecting him to an Aug. 13, 2005, robbery of video game store EB Games.
According to the suit, Walker "innocently
entered the same store as a customer," three days after the crime and
was erroneously recognized by witnesses as the "Demand Note
Robber," as police came to dub him.
Eventually, Walker was charged by the district
attorney with eight demand-note style robberies, including the EB Games caper.
He had a prior conviction for armed robbery in the 1970s, his lawyers said.
His lawyers said that when fingerprint
analysis failed to discover a match between Walker's prints and those lifted
from video game boxes found at EB Games, he should have been released.
Instead, he was held in custody for two years.
At the time of his arrest, Walker was employed
on a sporadic basis as a painter and did not have the resources to post bail,
his attorneys said.
He was held at Los Angeles County Jail until
Nov. 26, 2007, when a police department fingerprint expert confirmed that the
EB Games fingerprints belonged to another robbery suspect and the charges
were dropped, Walker's lawyers said.
The lawyers claim that the district attorney
and the police did not comply with repeated requests for evidence and
comparisons with similar crimes.
Burton, declined to say how much his team
plans to ask for in damages, but he compared the case to that of Compton
schoolteacher Raul Ramirez, who won a federal verdict of $18 million in
compensatory damages in 2006, after being wrongly accused of rape in 2003.