Arizona Man Sues Prosecutor for Wrongful Arrest

Joshua Brown

Imagine spending two months in jail for a robbery that you didn’t commit.

Well, that is exactly what happened to an Iowa man after he was falsely charged with first-degree robbery.

Now he is suing the prosecutor that threw him in jail.

Joseph McBride, 23, was arrested for his assumed role in a January 2017 home invasion robbery in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

McBride was in Phoenix at the time of his August 2017 arrest, several months after the original crime was committed.

And he showed authorities a time-stamped cell phone selfie proving he was in Arizona at the time of the Iowa home invasion, but they remained steadfast that they had the right guy.

MeBride is from Cedar Rapids but he moved to Phoenix in November 2015.

He was one of three people arrested for the crime.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden is the prosecutor that brought charges on McBride. Sanden alleged in court documents that social media posts and phone records suggested that McBride was involved in the home invasion robbery.

Sanden says the charge was based on a, “good-faith belief that the victim was correct in the identification.”

But as it turns out, the only evidence Sanden and police relied on was the victim pointing to a facebook photo of McBride, claiming he was involved in the crime.

The victim, identified as 27-year-old Tristan Hermann, told police that an acquaintance he knew as Elizabeth came to his apartment. Two men then forced their way in Hermann’s apartment, beating him with a handgun, and stealing his money and cellphone.

Hermann identified the woman as 22-year-old Elizabeth Navarro and said she set him up.

Hermann, who is bipolar, told police days later that he “had done his own investigation” and concluded the men involved were Navarro’s boyfriend, Austin Foster, and a man with the Facebook name “Jody Holliday.”

Police used photos and a birthdate to link the facebook account to McBride. Navarro was Facebook friends with McBride during the investigation, but nothing more.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department gathered Navarro’s phone records, which showed communications with Foster and another man around the time of the robbery but none of those records were connected to McBride.

McBride’s attorney, Tom Frerichs, filed an alibi motion defense on October 9. Soon after, Navarro identified another man as the third suspect.

But that man hasn’t been charged yet.

The charge against McBride was dropped on October 31.

McBride is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for violations of his Constitutional rights. The lawsuit was filed on Thursday.


Citizen Journalism