Man sues after mistaken identity led to false arrest, incarceration

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau May 13, 2010, 6:00am

Claiming he was unlawfully arrested and jailed on a warrant issued for someone else, Dameon Lee Morris filed suit against the city of West Orange and police officer Dennis Hankins.

Morris states that he was stopped without probable cause after he pulled over to allow an ambulance to pass. Officer Hankins told Morris that he was pulled over for speeding, but Morris was never ticketed for supposedly traveling over the speed limit, court papers state.

Hankins ran a computer check on the plaintiff's car and discovered there was an arrest warrant out for a "Dameon Morris." When the plaintiff was informed of the arrest warrant, he disputed it, stating it could not be him.

Morris claims the officer verified that the plaintiff resided at a different address and had a different birth date than the Dameon Morris on the arrest warrant.

The plaintiff contacted his wife, who came to the scene with additional documentation confirming the identity of the plaintiff.

"While Plaintiff's children aged 2, 5, and 10 watched from their mother's car, Defendant Hankins proceeded to arrest, handcuff and place Plaintiff in a patrol car," the complaint states.

The plaintiff was taken to the Orange County jail where he remained overnight until the county verified his identity the next morning.

According to court records, plaintiff Dameon Morris had a different birth date, middle name, address, Social Security number, height, weight and race than the "Dameon Morris" of the arrest warrant.

Morris argues defendants' actions violated his rights guaranteed to him by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and were done with a conscious disregard and indifference to his rights.

Morris states that he suffered substantial damages including terror, grief, mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, loss of liberty, and damage to reputation.

In addition to compensatory damages, the plaintiff is asking the court for an award of punitive damages, attorney fees, court costs, and interest.

The lawsuit was filed May 10 in the Beaumont Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

U.S. District Judge Ron Clark is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:10-cv-00269

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