Thursday, February 18, 2021

Former resident sues Westland and police over arrest

James Herrera
A former Westland resident has filed a civil suit seeking unspecified damages from the City of Westland, Westland Police Department, Police Chief Jeff Jedrusik and Police Det. Kameron Sleep, alleging that they violated his constitutional rights and caused him physical, mental and emotional harm.

James Herrera, 36, is also seeking compensation for his claim of police misconduct and deficient training and supervision, which he claims, led to his arrest last July. Herrera claims in his lawsuit that he was arrested without probable cause and that police singled him out because he refused to cooperate with another investigation. He claims there was a conspiracy by police for his refusal to cooperate.

In his court filings, Herrera claims the police engaged in “reckless, wanton, intentional and outrageous conduct, which was done with an evil motive and a callous indifference to the fundamental rights of (the) plaintiff.”

Jedusik, however, said he and the department are “confident that the case was handled in an appropriate manner.”

Herrera, who has moved from the city, he says, because of the police, claims that he has suffered irreparable harm.

Court documents state that the situation began July 5 when Jeffrey Brown filed a police report stating that he had been robbed at gunpoint earlier that week as he was leaving a supermarket. He said the robbers took a money order for $156 he had just purchased and his wallet containing $600 in cash.

He told police that one of the gunmen called the other “Tex.” In his suit, Herrera claims that Sleep, in his capacity as a police detective, was familiar with an individual called Tex and during the investigation of the robbery, showed Brown an array of photos which included a picture of Herrera.  Brown allegedly identified a photo of James Anthony 'Tex' Herrera, with whom police had a history.

 Herrera turned himself into police on July 23 in response to an arrest warrant. He told police he considered Brown, whom he had known for years, “an uncle” and a close friend. He agreed to a polygraph test and had an alibi for the time of the robbery which his attorney, Gregory Rohl, said could be corroborated by witnesses at the hotel where he said he was during the robbery. 

Brown later told police his money had been returned by one of the robbers and he did not want to prosecute the case further. Herrera, however, was charged by the office of the Wayne County prosecutor with armed robbery and faced life in prison if convicted.

Brown testified in court proceedings that Herrera was not one of the men who robbed him and the charges against Herrera in the armed robbery were dismissed in September.

Herrera filed his civil suit in Wayne County Circuit Court seeking damages for himself and his three children last month. The attorney representing the city has filed to have the case transferred to U.S. District Court.