For the second time in two weeks, a Dallas County man exonerated with DNA evidence has filed a federal civil rights and malicious prosecution lawsuit. And this one has a couple of twists.
Greg Wallis, convicted of a rape he didn’t commit because his tattoo was similar to one sported by the perpetrator, filed the lawsuit against the City of Irving, three police officers, a Dallas County investigator and a former assistant district attorney, the high-profile Dan Hagood, who was once a “superchief” in the Dallas County District Attorney’s office.
One of the Irving investigators named, Fred Curtis, is the same investigator named in a lawsuit filed last year by exoneree Donald Good. In addition, Wallis’ petition accuses Irving police of retaliating against him after his release from prison, where he served 17 years of a 50-year sentence, by falsely arresting him for DWI. According to the Innocence Project of Texas, Wallis has yet to be compensated for his wrongful imprisonment.
The lawsuit was filed by Glasheen, Valles & LaHoyas, a Lubbock law firm that filed another civil rights action earlier this month, on behalf of exoneree Billy James Smith. (The firm also represents exonerees Andrew Gossett and James Waller, whose lawsuits presumably are coming down the pike.)
Wallis accuses the Irving police of manipulating eyewitness identification evidence, committing or suborning perjury and destroying evidence in order to convict him for a 1988 sexual assault.
Early in the investigation, claims Wallis, the first Irving police investigator on the case ruled him out as a suspect because his tattoo -- a picture of a woman with long flowing hair running down the front of his left arm -- didn’t match the description given by the victim, who told police the tattoo was on the rapist’s back.
The first investigator took another job but completed a final lengthy report on his actions, including who he questioned and the photo lineups he conducted. Curtis then became lead detective. But that notebook was never made available to the defense, Wallis alleges, and could have contained exculpatory evidence -- such as the first guy ruling him out.
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Wallis claims that in prison he suffered six concussions; his last concussion resulted in his being unconscious for 16 days and a serious injury.
After his release from prison on March 21, 2006, Wallis claims he was harassed by members of the Irving police department. On February 24, 2007, he was arrested while listening to the radio in his car, which was parked in front of his apartment. Wallis alleges that two Irving officers arrested him without giving him a field sobriety test and refused to give the keys to the car to his common-law wife. The car was impounded, and the Wallises had to pay to get it back.
On June 13, administrative law judge Brenda Coleman -- presiding over a hearing to determine whether Wallis’ driver’s license should be revoked -- denied the petition by the government and said that the officers lacked “reasonable suspicion” to stop Wallis on the DWI charge. But the charge has not yet been dismissed by the city.
Calls to Irving City Attorney Charles Anderson and Hagood, now in private practice, hadn’t been returned by mid-afternoon. If and when they do call back, Unfair Park will, of course, post their responses. --Glenna Whitley