A man who spent nearly 18 years in prison for crimes from which he was later exonerated is now suing the City of Hammond and various police officers involved in his arrest.
James Hill was convicted of rape, unlawful deviate conduct and robbery in connection with an attack against a gas station clerk in 1980. The clerk, L.J., couldn’t at first identify her attackers, but after she was hypnotized by police, identified Hill as one of the two men. Biological evidence found on L.J. and evidence at the scene did not connect Hill to the attack.
Hill claims that the police officers involved in the investigation covered up important information, including that L.J. had been hypnotized and there were doubts about the reliability of statements from a witness that Hill owned a blue denim bag identical to the one used during the attack.
It wasn’t until 2001 that DNA testing on the physical evidence showed that Hill wasn’t the source of semen found on L.J. and her clothing. At that time, Hill had already been released from prison, but filed an amended petition for post-conviction relief in 2005. The post-conviction court vacated his convictions in October 2009.
Hill’s suit says his arrest, prosecution, convictions, and imprisonment were because of unconstitutional and unlawful efforts by the police officers named in his suit, who tried to use any means to gain a conviction. The defendants, Frank Dupey, Richard Tumildalsky, Raymond Myszak, and Michael Solan, deliberately didn’t reveal exculpatory information about the hypnosis of L.J., didn’t investigate any other potential suspects, and fabricated evidence from witnesses which was presented at trial. He claims the City of Hammond is also liable as it’s responsible for the policies, practices, and customs of the Hammond Police Department.
Hill filed the suit last week in the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, James Hill v. City of Hammond, et al., No. 2:10-CV-393. It includes three counts – denial of a fair trial, supervisory liability, and a Monell claim against the city. Hill is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, interest, and any other proper relief.