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Illinois Man Falsely Arrested in Attempted Child Abduction Awarded $2 Million

A federal jury has awarded over $2 million to a man who was acquitted of attempting to abduct two young girls.

In March 2001, a man approached an eight-year-old girl on the front porch of her home in Chicago, Illinois and offered to take her on a field trip. The girl’s mother heard what was happening and ordered the man to leave. There was another similar incident in the area a short time later. Chicago police made a composite sketch of the man based on descriptions provided by the girls and other witnesses. After receiving a tip identifying the person in the sketch as Timothy Finwall, Finwall was arrested by Chicago officers Martin Garcia and Dion Boyd.

The police showed photos of Finwall to witnesses and made comments suggesting his guilt before putting him in a line-up. Finwall proved he was at work in a tavern called Gloria’s Alibi when the attempted abductions occurred, and was acquitted at trial. He then filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

On October 23, 2007, a federal jury found the police had violated Finwall’s civil rights when they arrested him and manipulated witnesses into identifying him in the line-up. They awarded $2,025,000 in damages and the court subsequently awarded $345,000 in attorney’s fees.

Finwall said he felt vindicated by the verdict; speaking of the cops, he stated “I’d like them to know that they ruined my whole life ... and now hopefully I can get it back.” Michael Kanovitz, the Chicago attorney who represented Finwall in the civil suit, characterized the police officers’ allegations as a “pack of lies.”

Jennifer Hoyle, a spokesperson for the city’s law department, said the city “stands by the policework of Martin Garcia and Dion Boyd,” and was “very disappointed with the verdict.” Finwall, of course, was very disappointed with having been falsely arrested and prosecuted. See: Finwall v. City of Chicago, U.S.D.C. ND Ill., Case No. 04-cv-4663.

Additional source: Chicago Tribune

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Related legal case

Finwall v. City of Chicago