Despite police dash cam video proving his innocence, Tyree Bell was arrested and incarcerated last summer in the Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center.
That’s because no officer actually watched the video until the 15-year-old Kansas City resident had been in custody for three weeks.
Once viewed, police realized their mistake and he was released.
Bell and his family have now filed suit in federal court against the Kansas City Police Department for wrongful arrest.
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“The officers had access to the exonerating video on the screens in their car as this good kid who had never been in trouble insisted that they had the wrong person,” attorney Arthur Benson said Tuesday.
Bell was walking home from summer school on June 8, 2016, when he was arrested.
Minutes earlier, a suspect armed with a gun had fled from officers in the area, and one of those officers identified Bell as the suspect, according to the lawsuit.
Video that showed the fleeing suspect was available, as was video of Bell’s arrest, but the officers did not go back and watch it, according to the suit.
“Had the officers on the scene reviewed the video they would have discovered key differences that supported Bell’s denial,” the suit alleges.
Those included differences in the hair and clothing of the suspect and Bell.
It wasn’t until June 29, that a detective watched the video.
“Based on my observations, I believe the fleeing suspect shown in the initial video and video of Bell’s arrest appear to be two different people,” the detective reported.
The prosecutor agreed and Bell was released.
“Bell had never been in trouble with authorities before,” according to the suit.
For Bell, the experience of being “falsely arrested and handcuffed” was “bewildering, frightening, humiliating and embarrassing,” the suit alleges.
A police spokeswoman said the department does not comment on pending litigation.