COLUMBIA, Mo 3/10/14 (Beat Byte) --
On Ryan Ferguson's birthday in October 1984, his parents never could have imagined "the Kafkaesque nightmare, turned into a reality
, that laid ahead for their only son."
So begins a 50 page, nine-count, $100 million lawsuit
filed today on Ferguson's behalf by a three-lawyer team. The suit names the Boone County prosecution and City of Columbia police teams that sent Ferguson to prison for 10 years over a murder charge a Missouri appellate court overturned last year
It also names the City of Columbia and County of Boone. The suit
charges Ferguson's then-prosecutor, Boone County Circuit Court Judge Kevin Crane
, and former Columbia police chief Randy Boehm
with intentional, malicious defamation
after Ferguson's release from prison.
Both men insisted in public statements that Ferguson was guilty of the murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sportswriter Kent Heitholt in November 2013, shortly after the appellate court released him. The defamation charge may avoid the usual immunity
that accompanies criminal investigations and prosecutions because it did not involve those official acts.
The suit reserves the most serious charges for seven current and former Columbia police officers and two investigators
with the Boone County prosecutors office.
Against Columbia police detectives Brian Liebhart, Latisha Stroer, John Short, Jeff Nichols, Jeff Westbrook, Lloyd Simons
, and Columbia police sergeant Stephen Monticelli
, the suit alleges destruction or suppression of evidence that could have exonerated Ferguson; fabrication of evidence; reckless or intentional failure to investigate; malicious prosecution; conspiracy to deprive Ferguson of his Constitutional rights; failure to intervene to prevent such c
onduct; and false arrest.
Against William Haws
and Ben White
, investigators for then Boone County prosecutor Cran
e suit alleges destruction or suppression of evidence that could have exonerated Ferguson; reckless or intentional failure to inv
estigate; malicious prosecution; conspiracy to deprive Ferguson of his Constitutional rights; and failure to intervene to prevent such conduct. The suit
also names the City of Columbia and Boone County
, as "liable for the acts and omissions of their employees pursuant to their statutory duty to indemnify them." To "indemnify" essentially means to take on the liability for the acts of others, in this case officials engaged in city or county duties. The suit
seeks $75 million in actual and compensatory damages
, and $25 million in punitive damages
, an amount that would be awarded to punish the defendants and dissuade from further alleged abuses in the future, should Ferguson be successful.
Ferguson is represented by the defense attorney whose work freed him, Kathleen Zellner
; Douglas Johnson
; and Samuel Henderson