Cecil Franklin was charged with an Albany crime that occurred while he was in Iraq
By Kevin Hogencamp
Albany taxpayers should not pay for the Police Department’s wrongful arrest of a soldier who was in Iraq when a woman says he assaulted her, a U.S. District Court judge has ruled.
In dismissing the complaint, Judge Louis Sands ruled that civilian mechanic Cecil Lamont Franklin is not due any of the $325,000 he sought from the city of Albany for allegedly violating his constitutional rights under the Equal Protection Clause.
“A municipality may be subject to liability … if the constitutional violation that a plaintiff complains of is caused by a ‘policy, statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by that body’s officials …’” Sands wrote. “Since a local government is liable only for constitutional deprivations that result from its customs, policies and practices, a plaintiff cannot rely on a theory of respondent superior to impute liability on the governmental entity based upon the acts of one of its officials …
“Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to adequately plead his claim for (constitutional) violations because he did not and cannot show that plaintiff’s alleged unlawful arrest and wrongful detention were based on an official policy or custom of defendant City of Albany. Plaintiff’s complaint fails to assert that there exists a custom, policy, and practice of behavior that led to a subsequent deprivation and/or violation of plaintiff’s constitutional rights.”
Franklin, of Leesburg, was on a yearlong tour serving the United States in Iraq when an intoxicated Diedra Murphy told police that a man held her against her will during the early hours of Nov. 15, 2008.
But that didn’t stop Albany police detectives from charging Franklin, 39, with the crime as he stepped off of a plane at the Atlanta airport 10 weeks later.
It’s unclear from public records how Officer Bryant Leverette and Sgt. Tracey Hudson identified Franklin as a suspect in the case, but Murphy, 50, identified his photo in a police lineup.
In a civil rights lawsuit filed against Mayor Willie Adams, police officials and the city, Franklin says that he lost his job despite providing evidence upon his arrest that he couldn’t have committed the crime on South Madison Street in Albany.
Franklin is representing himself in the matter and has appealed Sands’ ruling. Originally charged with kidnapping and impersonating a police officer, he is seeking damages for lost wages, defamation, distress and “a ruined reputation from false accusations and charges.”
After City Manager Alfred Lott and Mayor Willie Adams refused Franklin’s plea to intervene, the Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office requested records from the U.S. Marine Corps about Franklin’s deployment. When the military provided plane tickets, timesheets and other evidence on Franklin’s behalf, prosecutors dropped the case.
Franklin claim that not only did Leverette, Hudson and Detective Charlie Roberts mistakenly arrest him, they did so after fabricating the case against him, knowing that Franklin did not match the suspect and his car did not match descriptions provided by Murphy, who said her assailant’s name was “Charlie” and that he drove a Mercedes or BMW. Franklin owned a Mustang at the time.
“Roberts, Leverete and Hudson did an improper investigation and lied in order to falsify a warrant to arrest Franklin,” Franklin said in court documents. “They also made false statements under oath.”
Further, records show that police claim that Murphy said that her assailant had a police badge and identified himself as a narcotics office. However, Murphy made no such claim to the officers who interviewed her after the incident.
Indeed, Murphy “wouldn’t give a description of this unknown subject, except he looked like Charles,” a police sergeant said in the incident report. “Ms. Murphy decided not to talk anymore and left the scene …”