A La Mesa woman who had theft charges against her dropped by the district attorney's office has taken the first step towards suing police for false arrest and false imprisonment.
Deidria Nicholson was arrested April 8th, after police searched her apartment and her car. She was charged with stealing credit cards from elderly victims, and using those cards to buy items at local stores.
The alleged crimes occurred in San Diego, so San Diego police served that search warrant and arrested Nicholson.
Nicholson says police told her she looked enough like the "wanted" photos of the suspect to make the arrest.
But after spending four days in jail, a judge and prosecutor compared the photos and agreed that Nicholson did not closely resemble the suspect. The the prosecutor dropped all the charges and freed Nicholson from jail.
Nicholson's attorney, Eugene Iredale, has now filed a claim against the city of San Diego, alleging his client was falsely arrested and falsely imprisoned.
Speaking today along with her lawyer, Nicholson said police should have known better than to arrest her, because she looked so different from the surveillance photos of the suspect.
Nicholson and her lawyer also say that even if police felt the resemblance of the photos and other evidence that might have been collected in the case were strong enough to warrant her arrest, police should have done more research on the case, and released her from jail sooner.
A few days after Nicholson's arrest, police in Claremont, CA arrested another woman who they said was linked to the crimes Nicholson was accused of committing.
Nicholson says the arrest and publicity surrounding it have hurt her reputation, and that some people still think she committed those crimes.
Her lawyer expects the city will reject the claim, at which point he will file a lawsuit against the city and the police officers who made the arrest.
The lawyer says no reasonable person could have mistaken Nicholson for the woman seen in surveillance video at the crime scenes.
But another attorney familiar with these kinds of lawsuits says police departments have immunity in some cases, even if they make a wrong arrest, and that Nicholson's lawyer will at the least, have to prove that police acted negligently in arresting Nicholson.