[Ppnews] La Junta Settles with Ojore Lutalo for wrongful imprisonment

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Feb 16 11:00:22 EST 2011


La Junta to settle lawsuit with man who was wrongfully jailed

<mailto:fcardona at denverpost.com?subject=The%20Denver%20Post:%20La%20Junta%20to%20settle%20lawsuit%20with%20man%20who%20was%20wrongfully%20jailed>By 
Felisa Cardona
<mailto:fcardona at denverpost.com?subject=The%20Denver%20Post:%20La%20Junta%20to%20settle%20lawsuit%20with%20man%20who%20was%20wrongfully%20jailed>The 
Denver Post
Posted: 02/15/2011 01:00:00 AM MST

The city of La Junta's insurance carrier will pay an undisclosed 
amount to Ojore Lutalo, a New Jersey passenger on an Amtrak train who 
was wrongly jailed after another passenger mistook his phone 
conversation for terrorist threats.

Lutalo filed suit in U.S. District Court in Denver against the city 
of La Junta, Police Chief Todd Quick and Sgt. Shawn Mobley, claiming 
Mobley lied in an arrest affidavit to justify the charge against him.

The terms of the settlement say the city does not admit liability and 
that the amount of money paid to Lutalo is to remain confidential.

Bill Jackson, La Junta's assistant city manager, said Monday the city 
does not have to publicly disclose the amount because it was paid by 
the city's insurance company and not the taxpayers.

Lutalo was offered $20,000 early on in the suit, but declined to 
settle for that amount, said his attorney, Francisco Martinez.

The city has also agreed to submit a letter to authorities in New 
Jersey and Colorado that says Lutalo's arrest was based on misinformation.

On Jan. 26, 2010, Lutalo was arrested on suspicion of endangering 
public transportation while headed home to New Jersey after attending 
the Anarchist Book Fair in Los Angeles.

Amtrak called the La Junta police after a conductor said a Missouri 
couple on board thought they overheard Lutalo making statements about 
bombing the train and al-Qaeda.

But other passengers sitting near Lutalo told police they didn't hear 
him say anything threatening, Lutalo said in his lawsuit. La Junta 
police did not include those statements in their reports and arrest papers.

The lawsuit also says Mobley filed a report that says Lutalo was born 
in Nigeria even though he is an American born in New Jersey.

The district attorney declined to file a case against Lutalo, citing 
a lack of evidence, but Lutalo was in custody for three days.

The incident occurred shortly after the Nigerian bomber attempted a 
terrorist attack on an airplane Christmas Day 2009, and Martinez 
believes the hysteria surrounding that case led to Lutalo's arrest.

"He ran into this perfect storm," Martinez said.

Lutalo already had notoriety because he spent 28 years in prison for 
getting into a police shootout in 1975 and another shooting with a 
citizen in 1981.

While in prison, he pushed for reforms that led to his release in August 2009.

Felisa Cardona: 303-954-1219 or 
<mailto:fcardona at denverpost.com>fcardona at denverpost.com

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