(OAKLAND, Calif.) — A man who was arrested on assault charges is suing the city of Oakland, Calif., for putting him on what he says was a police “Most Wanted” list.
Chau Van, 37, was arrested on Feb. 13, 2012 when he went to the Oakland Police Department to object to his inclusion on a wanted list, claiming it was a mistake. Police, however, informed Van that he was wanted, there was a warrant for his arrest and cuffed him.
The arrest warrant claimed that Van was one of four gang members who assaulted another man with a bat on Dec. 19, 2011. The victim later picked Van out of a line up, police and court documents said.
Van was released after 72 hours without being charged, but Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said that doesn’t mean Van is innocent.
“The fact that these charges were not immediately filed does not mean the arrest was unlawful or unwarranted,” Jordan said in a statement released this week. He said the investigation is ongoing.
Van, a real estate consultant and freelance web designer, filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Oakland and members of its police department on March 5 claiming he was wrongly put on the city’s “Most Wanted” list for a period of six months.
Van’s attorney, DeWitt Lacy, told ABC News that the police department had made an “egregious error” by including him on its so-called wanted list.
“Mr. Van had to live in a state of fear knowing that police officers, if he did come in contact with them, would be viewing him in the light of being a very dangerous felon who was involved with gunshots and or a vicious brutal assault with a bat. None of which he was involved with,” Lacy said.
“The second part is more dangerous to me because you’ve involved him with a gang and now gangsters are looking for him and they don’t play by the rules that police do. They’ll go after your family,” the lawyer said.
“It just shows the arrogance of the police department. That they won’t admit the wrong that they’ve done to this guy,” Lacy said.
The chief said that the city does not maintain a “Most Wanted” list. Van’s name and photo were initially cited in a news conference and then published online via a press release. The release was removed when Lacy and Van sent a letter of demand to the police department, requesting it be taken down.
The City Attorney’s office is reviewing the press release, said Jordan.
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