Jury awards $10M to Philadelphia man over wrongful arrest

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Jury awards $10M to Philly man over wrongful arrest: Matt O'Donnell reports during Action News Mornings on May 11, 2018. (WPVI)

A Philadelphia man locked up for more than three years based on a police officer's false testimony has been awarded $10 million.

The jury's verdict Thursday was handed down in the case of Khanefah Boozer, a 33-year-old man who languished in jail while he awaited trial for allegedly firing a gun at Officer Ryan Waltman in 2011. He was unable to post the $500,000 bail.

When he finally went to trial in 2014, Waltman testified that Boozer shot at police, and another officer backed up the testimony.

Another man testified that he, not Boozer, fired the gun in the air, not at the officer. A jury acquitted Boozer of all the charges.

Boozer then filed a civil suit, in which he says he told police that his friend, not him, fired the gun on the very night of his arrest, but it was never investigated.

The civil claims against the police officers included malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and civil conspiracy.

"The officers were intent on arresting and charging someone for the shooting," according to a filing from Boozer's lawyers in his civil case.

Boozer's mother and sister passed away while he was in jail.

Lawyers for the city contended that Waltman made an honest mistake in accusing Boozer of firing a gun. A spokesman for Mayor Jim Kenney said the city is reviewing the verdict and may appeal.

Waltman, a 10-year veteran of the force, remains employed with the police department with a salary of about $75,000, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Boozer's attorney, Robert Levant, said at a news conference the verdict was "a message that should be heard loud and clear throughout the city of Philadelphia, that this will not be tolerated."

Boozer wants people not to focus on his jury award but instead keep fighting for anyone who was wrongfully arrested and remains behind bars.

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