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Man Awarded Nearly $650,000 for False Arrest

September 21, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

A federal jury has found Culver City and one of its police detectives liable for nearly $650,000 in damages for the false arrest of a 35-year-old man on charges of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy.

Luther Bristol Coppage III of Los Angeles was acquitted of the charges after a 1998 trial in Superior Court, but not before spending four months behind bars.

In his federal lawsuit, Coppage accused police of arresting him even though the boy and his parents had given them conflicting and unreliable information about the alleged crime and the assailant.

The jury also ordered the boy and his parents to pay Coppage $50,000 each in damages for malicious prosecution.

James F. Feffer, a private attorney who represented Culver City in the trial, said Friday that he was considering asking that the award be reduced or seeking a retrial. The case had been tried a year ago in U.S. District Court, but a mistrial was declared when the jury declared that it was hopelessly deadlocked.

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