The city of West Des Moines has settled a lawsuit and agreed to pay Matthew Rodrigues $450,000 in result of a lawsuit he filed against the city police department over a wrongful arrest. Rodrigues spent 11 days in the Dallas County Jail after being charged with sexual assault.
According to Rodrigues’ account of the event, he was at a motel party in West Des Moines in April when police stopped him asking him questions in connection with a sexual assault investigation. Rodrigues told WHO-TV the cops called him Mexican to which he replied he was Portuguese. When cops pressed him for his name he replied and the cops said, “see, you’re Mexican.”
Rodrigues allegedly spent more than $900 on food and phone calls in jail while trying to convince his jailers he was not involved in the crime. Rodrigues told police from the start that video was available proving his innocence. Police opted to not view the video until right before Rodrigues was released.
Police have settled the suit with Rodrigues but still maintain they did nothing wrong. According to the police department, it was a simple case of mistaken identity.
This settlement is reportedly the fourth settlement this year in which the city has paid out claims in relation to the police department’s conduct in and out office.
In November 2016 three women who worked for the department filed sexual discrimination claims against then police chief Shaun LaDue. Crime analyst Alice Wisner and animal control officer Carol Gass reached settlements with the city of $150,000 and $30,000, respectively. Former police sergeant Tanya Zaglauer Schmell went to trial with her case and was awarded $1.9 million in November 2016.
LaDue resigned that month at the request of city leaders.
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