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$100,000 Settlement in Atlanta False Arrest and Imprisonment

By Christopher Zoukis

A Georgia woman who claimed that she was wrongfully arrested and jailed settled her claims against the City of Atlanta for $100,000 in August 2013.

Teresa Culpepper, 48, called 911 on August 21, 2011 to report her car stolen. An Atlanta police officer spoke with her about the incident, but did not take a written statement. Later that night, in response to an unrelated domestic dispute report, that same officer returned to Culpepper's home and arrested her on felony battery charges. She was booked into jail, where she spent the next 53 days.

There was just one problem: Culpepper was not involved in the domestic dispute, which had taken place a mile down the road. The arresting officer was confused, and arrested the wrong person.

The man who was attacked in the domestic dispute called the district attorney's office three days later to report that they had the wrong person. Culpepper was not released. The man contacted the D.A. again one month later, but Culpepper was still not released. It wasn't until the man showed up at a hearing that any action was taken, and even then the D.A. only dropped the felony charge--Culpepper was sent back to jail for six more days on a misdemeanor battery charge.

When Culpepper was finally released, she hired Marietta, Georgia attorneys John Merchant and Ashleigh Bartkus Merchant of The Merchant Law Firm, PC to sue the City, several police officers, Fulton County and the district attorney. She alleged due process and unreasonable search and seizure claims, as well as tort claims for false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

On August 28, 2013, Culpepper settled with the city, the county and police officers Jaidon Codrington, Nicole D. Aguinaga, Justin Strom, Lenore Vanderpool, Vernissa Perry and Sharon Jackson for payment of $100,000. Her claims against district attorney Paul J. Howard, Jr., assistant district attorney Stephen Putnam, Waverly Settles, Rebecca Keel and Melanie Davis were not part of the settlement. 

See: Culpepper v. City of Atlanta, et al., United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, Case No. 1:12-cv-02180 (August 28, 2013).

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Related legal case

Culpepper v. City of Atlanta



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