The case of a man who says he was wrongly arrested when Casper’s police came to his job looking for another man could go to a jury, recent court documents suggest.
Kaleb Clark, a black man, was inside Gaslight Social after an early morning bouncer shift on July 7, 2018. He was wearing his work uniform and was sober, according to court documents.
Then, according to the complaint in the case, three police officers from Casper entered looking for someone else – a Lucas Sanchez, whom they were looking for under a warrant out of Johnson County.
When they allegedly accused Clark of being the one they were looking for, he told them he was not, Clark’s trial says. When he refused to show them his ID, they placed him under arrest.
Clark was charged with disturbing the peace for shouting and resisting after officers started handcuffing him, court documents show.
In June 2020, almost two years after the incident, he filed a complaint with the Casper Police Department. In March, he took the case to United States District Court, claiming that police violated the Fourth and 14th Amendments by subjecting him to an unlawful search and seizure on the basis of his race.
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Now Clark and Casper’s attorneys are asking for a jury trial to decide the case.
“The only thing Mr. Clark apparently ‘wrong’ was sitting at his workplace with the wrong color of skin and refusing to comply with officers’ illegal requests,” Clark’s attorneys write in the report. complaint.
According to a notice filed with the ministry last year, officers should have known that Clark was not the one they were looking for.
One of the officers, Andrea Husted, had a sister who worked at the bar and who, according to the lawsuit, told her earlier in the day that Sanchez only worked there for special events and that she would not be there that night. According to court documents, the general manager on duty that night and a deputy manager on leave, along with several other employees, told officers that Clark was not Sanchez and that they were nothing alike.
Clark’s original claim says Husted put false information in the arrest affidavit to cover up signs of an illegal arrest. In court records, lawyers representing the officers say their actions were authorized by law.
The affidavit also states that one of the officers, Sgt. Scott Jones, confirmed to the manager that Clark was Sanchez before he arrested him. But documents indicate that at trial Jones said the manager correctly identified Clark as himself.
The department, via a spokesperson, declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing litigation. City attorneys and officers also said they would not comment, and Clark’s legal team did not respond to a request to speak on Monday.
In 2017, Casper police arrested a man for interference after refusing to identify himself to officers responding to reports that he was sitting in a car parked outside his girlfriend’s house, waiting for her to return home. He appealed his conviction and a decision by the Natrona County District Court said – just a month before Clark’s arrest – that citizens who are not suspected of a crime have no obligation to donate. their name or identification with the police.
As part of the settlement in the case, which earned the man nearly $ 150,000, CPD agreed to update its policies to reflect the decision. Clark’s complaint says the department and, by proxy, the city failed to adequately train or supervise officers to handle the situation.
Clark’s documents indicate that the CPD had a “custom, policy, model and practice” of arresting people refusing to hand over information requested by officers “but not having the right to collect.”
In their response to the lawsuit, city lawyers deny that a practice was in place at the time. The document also claims that officers’ qualified immunity, as part of their position, should protect them from prosecution.