A man who alleges Los Angeles police wrongfully arrested him and held him for 18 days in 2016 as they mistakenly identified him as the killer in a 2000 murder is suing the city and Los Angeles County.
Guillermo Torres was once listed on the department’s “Most Wanted” list.
His defamation claim stems from news releases the LAPD disseminated that falsely identified Torres as a suspected murderer, the suit states. The untruthful information was reported by news outlets worldwide, according to the complaint.
Police said last year that they thought he was Samuel Calvario, who was sought in the Nov. 9, 2000, killing of 31-year-old Daniel Felix. Torres had adopted a new identity to evade police, the LAPD said.
But Torres was cleared after DNA testing determined he was not Calvario.
His Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed Wednesday, alleges assault, battery, false imprisonment, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, abuse of process and civil rights violations.
The suit seeks unspecified damages.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, could not be immediately reached.
According to the complaint, the LAPD received an anonymous tip that someone wanted for Felix’s killing was living at a particular address. Without having done proper DNA testing and taken other steps to prove the accuracy of the information, Torres was arrested July 19, 2016, in front of his son and two fellow employees, the suit states.
Torres is five inches shorter than the actual suspect, the suit states.
The stress of being falsely arrested and accused of being Calvario led Torres to have an emotional breakdown and be hospitalized while in custody, according to the complaint.
“He adamantly denied being the wanted fugitive, Samuel Calvario,” the suit states.
Torres was released the next day and left on an unfamiliar street, the suit states. He spent $100 for a cab to take him back to the San Fernando Valley, where he went back to work, according to his lawsuit.
But last July 25, police entered Torres’ home and held his wife, Susana De Santiago Torres, at gunpoint, leaving her fearing for her life, the suit states.
Police directed the woman to take them to Torres’ second job, where he was again taken into custody and later arraigned and ordered held on $2 million bail in the Felix killing, the suit states.
Torres had given fingerprint samples and submitted to DNA a week earlier, but police did not check to see if the evidence matched Calvario, the suit states.
Torres was held for 18 days until he was released Aug. 10, when the DNA testing was finally examined and police determined he was not Calvario, the suit states. Charges against Torres were dismissed Sept. 8, the suit states.
— Staff and wire reports
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: