Judge dismisses Tulsa from lawsuit in connection with TPD corruption probe
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 08, 2012
12/08/12 at 5:04 AM
A federal judge on Friday dismissed the city of Tulsa as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by a man who alleged his civil rights were violated in a drug case connected to the investigation into corruption within the Tulsa Police Department.
U.S. Chief District Judge Gregory Frizzell found that Hugo Alberto Gutierrez did not specify any specific policy or custom of the city of Tulsa that violated his rights.
Gutierrez was sentenced in July 2008 to seven years and three months in prison after pleading guilty in April 2008 to possessing methamphetamine Jan. 4, 2008, while intending to distribute it.
However, according to Friday's order, Gutierrez's conviction was vacated July 30, 2010, because prosecutors conceded evidence in the criminal case against Gutierrez was acquired in violation of his constitutional rights.
Gutierrez claimed in his lawsuit, filed May 8, that police fabricated evidence and stole money from him.
Specifically, he alleged that then-Tulsa Police Department officer John K. "J.J." Gray provided false information in a search warrant affidavit that led to his conviction on drug charges and that Gray and three other officers stole at least $10,000 from him.
"The city of Tulsa knew and/or should have known of multiple previous occasions when defendant Gray fabricated evidence or was disciplined while acting as a Tulsa police officer," he argued in the lawsuit.
However, Frizzell wrote Friday that the "city of Tulsa is incapable of falsifying information in the search warrant, falsely arresting and maliciously prosecuting Gutierrez, or stealing money from Gutierrez."
Gutierrez, 37, also alleged the city "had and has a policy and custom of failing or refusing to properly train, supervise and discipline its officers for misconduct. This created an atmosphere within the Tulsa Police Department of police officers being able to routinely and frequently violate the statutory and constitutional rights of citizens, without fear of discipline or firing."
Yet, Frizzell found that Gutierrez did not name the policymakers or supervisors who allegedly furthered any policy or custom of not disciplining officers who allegedly violated citizens' rights.
While the city's motion to dismiss Gutierrez's claims was granted in full, the lawsuit remains alive regarding various individual defendants, including Gray.
Gray pleaded guilty in June 2010 to a theft of public money charge and was sentenced to four months in prison, a punishment he has served. He retired in May 2010 from the Tulsa Police Department.
At least 15 lawsuits have been filed against the city and individual officers as a result of the police corruption investigation.
Original Print Headline: Tulsa dismissed in lawsuit
David Harper 918-581-8359