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$25,000 Settlement for Detroit Man Falsely Arrested and Imprisoned

by Christopher Zoukis

A man who was falsely arrested, falsely imprisoned and maliciously prosecuted by Detroit police officers based on mistaken identity, received a $25,000 settlement from the city of Detroit on behalf of the officers.

On September 6, 2007, Wendell Jermaine Hollis, a 29-year-old nurse’s assistant, was parking his vehicle at a residence when several police officers surrounded him. He informed the officers that he had a concealed weapon, as well as a permit to carry it. The weapon was removed, and Hollis was handcuffed by Officer Matthew Fulgenzi, who identified him as Terrell Carter.

Hollis and other people present told Fulgenzi that Hollis was not Terrell Carter, so Hollis was placed in the back of a police car while officers verified his identity. Although the officers acknowledged that he was not Carter, the officers, including Richard Bullard, continued with Hollis’ arrest, charging him with assaulting Fulgenzi and violating a firearms ordinance. Hollis remained in jail for three days before being released on a $1,000 bond. He was later acquitted of the charges.

Hollis filed a civil rights complaint in federal court against Bullard, Fulgenzi, and others he felt were responsible, alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, false charges and malicious prosecution. He argued that the officers knew he had a legal right to carry a concealed weapon and that he didn’t assault anyone, yet they chose to falsely charge him. Hollis claimed to suffer emotional distress, mental anguish and reputational damage, and sought damages, the return of his arrest records, the return of his weapon and $1,300 to cover his legal expenses.

The defendants contended that they had probable cause to arrest Hollis, used the minimum force necessary in his arrest and had governmental immunity. They also argued that Hollis had no damages, and if he did, it was his own fault.

A settlement was reached prior to trial wherein the city of Detroit agreed to pay Hollis $25,000 on behalf of the officers. Hollis was represented by noted author and attorney Daniel E. Manville of East Lansing, Michigan.

See: Hollis v. Ballard, et al., United States District Court for the District of Michigan, Case No. 2:10-cv-10729 (Mar. 20, 2012).

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Related legal case

Hollis v. Ballard, et al., United States District Court for the District of Michigan