Federal Judge Rules For Richmond In Suit Involving Police Officer

LEXINGTON, KY -- A federal judge had dismissed a lawsuit against the city of Richmond and one of its police officers which alleged a case of mistaken identity violated her constitutional rights, reports the Richmond Register in its Sunday edition.

Debra L. Wren filed the suit in November 2006, more than a year after an incident in which she claims she was arrested on charges her former sister-in-law with the same first and last name — spelled slightly different — allegedly committed, reports the Richmond Register.

U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman entered the judgment affirming that Richmond Police Detective Rodney Richardson not only acted within his responsibilities based on probable cause, but also that once he realized the mistake, he acted quickly to correct it.

“Obviously we are pleased with the result and the court’s finding that no constitutional violation occurred,” said Charley Cole, attorney for the city and Richardson, the Register reports.

The suit stemmed from a credit card theft and subsequent fraudulent use at a Richmond Redi Mart. The fraud victim identified one of the involved suspects as Debra Wren, whom she had seen that day when she performed a urinalysis for Wren at Madison County Drug Court.

With that name, Richardson obtained a video of the Redi Mart activity and conducted a “mug shot” search for Debra Wren in a police department database, court documents state.

A photo of Debra Wren was found in the database because “she had previously been arrested and booked for the felony of theft by unlawful taking (“tbut”)/shoplifting in 2002 — a crime all too similar to the tbut, i.e. theft and fraudulent use of (the victim’s) credit card,” court documents state, reports the newspaper.

Reportedly, the mug shot photo and video from the Redi Mart seemed to match, so Richardson swore out a warrant for Wren’s arrest. After being served with the arrest warrant by another RPD officer, Wren complained she was wrongfully accused and that it was her former sister-in-law who was to blame, reports the Richmond Register.

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