Chris Tapp sends notice of his intent to sue Idaho Falls
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Editors Note: This article has been updated to include statements from Attorney Peter Neufeld.
IDAHO FALLS — After spending nearly half his life behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, Christopher Tapp will now seek restitution from the city of Idaho Falls through a lawsuit.
Before Christmas, Tapp sent the city notice he intends to sue the Idaho Falls Police Department, according to legal documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com through a records request.
“Mr. Tapp will seek damages for his unjust conviction and imprisonment for over twenty years,” the notice reads.
The notice, which was first reported by the Post Register, is a precursor to the lawsuit itself, which will be filed at a future date. The notice was filed by Peter Neufeld of Neufeld, Scheck & Brustin, a New York City law firm.
Neufeld called all the evidence and experts proclaiming Tapp’s innocence and the police departments digging in of their heals on wrong conviction “disturbing.” He said Tapp missed out on what most people would experience in life by going into prison as a young man and being released some 20 years later.
The notice claims the police department violated Tapp’s First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. It also includes claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, conspiracy and defamation.
Idaho Falls spokesman Bud Cranor confirmed to EastIdahoNews.com the city received the notice.
The future lawsuit revolves around the 1996 rape and murder of Angie Dodge. Tapp was convicted of the crime and sent to prison in 1998 after he confessed. However, the validity of that confession was later questioned, and eventually, DNA evidence discovered early on in the case, was found to not match Tapp’s DNA.
The person the DNA belonged to was later identified as Brian Dripps, who arrested and charged with raping and murdering Dodge.
On July 17, Tapp was officially exonerated during a court hearing.
“Tapp is innocent of and had nothing to do with this crime,” the notice reads. “… he was convicted of the rape and murder of Ms. Dodge on the basis of gross misconduct committed by the Idaho Falls Police Department and its officers.”
Idaho Falls Police issued the following statement to the media:
“The Idaho Falls Police Department is proud of the work done in recent months that lead to the arrest of Mr. Dripps and additional information about the Angie Dodge case,” IFPD spokeswoman Jessica Clements said. “The city has received notice of Mr. Tapp’s intent to file a lawsuit and will participate in the process moving forward.”
Neufeld told EastIdahoNews.com Friday the behavior of the Idaho Falls Police Department over the past several months is not an excuse for what happened to Tapp.
“There is no way they can defend their behavior for the last 24 years,” Neufeld said.
Brian Dripps is scheduled for a jury trial in early 2021. .