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$300,000 Settlement in California Officers’ Planting of Gun on Parolee

The city of Oakland, California paid $300,000 to a man who spent nearly two years in jail after a police officer planted a gun on him. The settlement follows a jury verdict in the case.

Among local audiences, Lorenzo Hall was a well known rapper. To local police, he was a parolee. While Hall was attending the June 23, 2006 wake for his aunt, Officer Ramon Alcantar arrested him. He charged Hall with multiple offenses related to possessing a gun.

Alcantar told Hall, “I found your gun,” as he put Hall in the back of the patrol car. Hall began yelling out “to anyone in the vicinity that the officer was trying to put a gun on him.” Alcantar rolled up the car windows to prevent further yelling.

Police said they were acting on a confidential informant’s tip that a man named “Zo” was carrying a gun. Hall, according to police, fit the informant’s description and had tucked in his waistband a loaded .40 caliber handgun. The gun actually belonged to another man who had hidden it in a car near the wake, said Hall’s attorneys, John Burris and Ben Nisenbaum.

Initially, Hall spent four months in jail before posting bond. That bond was raised after prosecutors claimed he was a “three strikes and you’re out” candidate. He spent another 18 months in jail before prosecutors dropped charges in August 2008. Hall filed his civil rights complaint in 2009.

In October 2001, a federal jury awarded Hall $175,000. The city council voted to settle the case for that amount and $125,000 in attorney fees and costs.

“This was an important case for holding police accountable for their misconduct,” said Burris. “Because Mr. Hall has a criminal record, the officers claimed a weapon found in a car was his when the evidence was clear the gun belonged to someone else.” Alcantar has since retired.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

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