Attorneys for Cornealious Michael Anderson III announced in a letter to Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Sam Dotson that they intend to file a federal civil rights lawsuit over Anderson's November 16, 2014, arrest.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers -- who are named as potential defendants -- arrested Anderson as he was walking to his car from a club at about 1 a.m., and accused him of snatching a purse. After the victims ID'd Anderson at the scene, police arrested him and the St. Louis Circuit Attorney charged him with second degree robbery.
Four months later, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce dropped all charges after new evidence emerged proving Anderson's alibi. Now, Anderson is threatening to sue for "deprivation of Federal civil rights, and commonlaw causes of action for false arrest, false imprisonment, battery, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, as well as a claim for municipal liability," according to the notice of claim.
Anderson made national news after Riverfront Times broke the news that the state of Missouri forgot to take him to prison to serve a thirteen year sentence for a 1999 robbery. In that time, Anderson did not flee the area or change his name, and started a business and a family. He was rearrested in 2013, and after ten months in prison a judge determined that continuing to hold an "obviously rehabilitated man" made no sense for the taxpayers of the state, and set him free, no strings attached. (Read our feature story on Anderson here.)
This latest incident rocketed his November arrest into the local headlines. Here's how Anderson's lawyer Patrick Megaro describes what happened in his letter to the city:
Cornealious Michael Anderson, III was arrested on or about November 16, 2014 at approximately 1 :00 a.m. in the vicinity of 4th Street and Walnut Avenue in St. Louis by police officers employed by the Metropolitan Police Department, and subjected to two suggestive identification procedures which resulted in false positive identifications...
Through the efforts of his defense team, evidence was obtained that directly refuted the allegations against him and proved that he was innocent of the crime for which he was arrested. This evidence was readily available to the police immediately after his arrest; indeed, as he was being handcuffed, my client begged the police to investigate his alibi and speak with the people he was with immediately prior to his arrest to confirm he was innocent. The evidence consisted of video surveillance recordings, digital photographs, social media, and numerous reputable witnesses.
Some of that evidence came from Daily RFT, after investigators waited so long to collect surveillance footage that it was automatically taped over by the security system of the bar where Anderson was on November 16.
"We hope that this lawsuit will help not only Mr. Anderson but others in the future to avoid the same type of treatment and wrongful arrest and unfounded prosecution. We hope that this will change the system," Megaro tells Daily RFT. "We're primary looking for a change in policy, in addition to damages for the suffering, mental anguish, loss of reputation -- everything that Mr. Anderson had to go through for approximately four months."
City spokeswoman Maggie Crane declined to comment without an actual lawsuit having been filed yet. We'll update if we hear back from the St. Louis Police Department.
Here's a full copy of Megaro's letter of intent to sue: