Two California men who spent seven months in jail for conspiracy to commit murder based on rap lyrics and Facebook photos that made no reference to actual murders filed a lawsuit against the San Diego Police Department Tuesday.
Police based their arrests on allegations that Brandon Duncan and Aaron Harvey were Facebook friends with suspected gang members they grew up with, using an obscure law that does not ever appear to have been used in California before the 2014 arrests.
But there was no evidence that either committed any murders or were actual gang members.
Duncan, 35, was an aspiring rapper who went by the moniker “Tiny Doo,” but who was making a living laying tile when he was arrested at his San Diego home, which police searched without a warrant, later informing him he was arrested over the contents of his music lyrics.
Harvey, 28, was studying to become a real estate agent when he was arrested by federal marshals in Las Vegas, who informed him he was wanted for a string of murders, which he knew he did not commit.
He later learned that San Diego police detectives Rudy Castro and Scott Henderson were only basing that belief on Facebook photos showing him posing with suspected gang members he grew up with in San Diego’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Both men spent seven months in the George Bailey Detention Center, known as “Thunderdome” and “Gladiator School” because of its reputation for violence.
A judge threw out the case in 2015 on lack of evidence, allowing the men to proceed with the federal lawsuit, which you can read here.
The law police arrested them on is Penal Code 182.5 which notes gang members with general knowledge of a gang’s criminal activities can be prosecuted for crimes others commit as long as they willfully benefited from, furthered, promoted or assisted in some way.