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Cops and Courts

Elyria man sues Sheffield, police

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ELYRIA — An Elyria man has filed a lawsuit against Sheffield police and Sheffield after he contends he was wrongly arrested, racially profiled and falsely imprisoned.

Terrell Higgins, of Oakwood Drive, said he was wrongfully arrested July 9, 2017, by Sheffield police while lawfully operating his vehicle and was arrested on active warrants, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court.

According to the suit, an unknown individual led Sheffield police on a chase through Westlake and Sheffield on April 30, 2017. After being pursued, the individual abandoned the vehicle and escaped on foot.

Police identified the vehicle as belonging to a Migreilis Osorio Velazquez who told authorities that Higgins stole the keys to her vehicle and the vehicle, according to court documents. The suit also said police “claim to have identified plaintiff as the individual operating the vehicle.”

“(Higgins) is a black male and, upon information and belief, the individual involved in the police chase was also a black male,” the lawsuit said. “Plaintiff was racially profiled and charges were filed against him because he is a black male.”

The suit also said Higgins has never operated that vehicle belonging to Velazquez and “any amount of due diligence or proper investigation in this matter would have revealed that plaintiff was not the individual identified in the report.”

Sheffield police reviewed the matter and realized they had issued a warrant for the wrong person and released Higgins, the lawsuit said.

“As a direct and proximate result of the acts and/or omissions of defendants, plaintiff sustained injuries and damages, past and future, which includes the following: humiliation; pain and suffering, including emotional distress; lost wages and earning capacity; and violations of constitutional rights,” the lawsuit said.

Sheffield Law Director David Graves did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Higgins is seeking $25,000 for each of the three causes of action listed in the suit, plus litigation and attorney fees and any “other relief the court deems just and equitable.”

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.
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