Tuesday, April 16, 2002
County Panel Approves $85,000 to Settle False Arrest Claim
By NAZANIN AGANGE, Staff Writer
The county Claims Board agreed yesterday to offer $85,000 to settle the false arrest and imprisonment suit of a man who was extradited to Los Angeles on another man’s arrest warrant and detained in county jail for 27 days.
Jason Estrada, 28, was arrested by New York City police officers for possession of an unlit marijuana cigarette on June 25, 1999, according to a county report. He was booked and detained awaiting arraignment, but just before his court hearing he was told by a public defender that there was a warrant for his arrest in Los Angeles.
Although Estrada told his attorney that he had never been to Los Angeles and did not know of a warrant, his attorney advised him to waive extradition and go to California to prove that he was the wrong person.
He remained in New York jail until July 15 when two Los Angeles detectives flew him to California. The detectives had neither a photograph of the suspect on the warrant nor a copy of his fingerprints.
Six days later Estrada appeared in court when the district attorney requested a fingerprint comparison, the first time such a request had been made, according to a county report.
Estrada was released the following day and flown back to New York City after a fingerprint comparison absolved him.
Lt. Rodney Penner of the Sheriff’s Departments Inmate Reception Center said that anyone booked, whether at a Sheriff station or an outside municipality is entered into a consolidated booking system.
“Anybody who’s going to be brought in is going to be fingerprinted and have pictures taken,” he said. If they are “in some government database, whether state or national, that will allow us to make a positive identification.”
Penner conceded that “usually a person [who] is I.D.’ed at an offsite location . . . identity is verified by that agency.”
County counsel advised the Claims Board that because the waiver of extradition rights is not an acknowledgement that Estrada was the person indicated in the warrant, a jury may find that the Sheriff’s Department had an obligation to obtain Estrada’s fingerprints and photograph right away and give him a prompt hearing once he arrived in Los Angeles.
In other action, the Claims Board approved or recommended for approval the payment of over $2 million in seven other claims including a claim of sexual assault against a deputy probation officer for $40,000, a civil rights violation for a disabled county employee for $90,000, an injury accident settlement for $300,000 and a property dispute in Malibu for $1.3 million.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company