by Chet Hardin
Joseph Martinez was arrested because a guy with a tattoo on his shin sold an undercover cop some meth.
Martinez was held for 40 days at the El Paso County jail until he could raise the collateral for bail. In that time, he lost his job. For nearly a year he faced the prospect of being sentenced to a crime he didn't commit that brought with it a mandatory minimum eight-year prison sentence.
Martinez doesn't even have a tattoo.
The Fourth Judicial District Attorney's office dropped the case against Martinez after essentially lifting his pant leg to see if they had the right man.
They didn't. So the system worked, right?
Well, Martinez didn't think so. He filed suit against the city of Colorado Springs police, and the detective whose investigation pinpointed him. Later, he would revise that suit to only sue the officer in his individual capacity. One of the problems with the suit, however, is that the officer didn't actually make the arrest; Martinez turned himself in.
On Aug 19, Judge Richard P. Matsch, with the U.S. District Court, threw out Martinez's claim, stating that at best the claim proved negligence by the detective who accused Martinez of dealing by "failing to take steps to better identify the participant in the drug sale" leading to "an incorrect identification in the affidavit for arrest warrant. This is not sufficient to establish liability for a constitutional violation."
As Martinez's lawyer, Dan Kay puts it: "[The police] just didn't do their job, and that's not enough."