By Rena Abdusalam
LOS ANGELES, CA – National civil rights law firm Neufeld Scheck Brustin Hoffmann & Freudenberger said late last week the city of Los Angeles has agreed to an $8 million wrongful conviction settlement in the case of Ruben Martinez, Jr., compensating him for the 12 years he spent in prison for a string of robberies he did not commit.
The settlement, which is one of the biggest per-year wrongful imprisonment settlements ever paid in Los Angeles history, acknowledges, said the firm, the anguish Martinez and his family experienced throughout his unjust incarceration and the shocking police misconduct and errors that were discovered from the civil lawsuit.
Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann, a partner of law firm, stated, “Ruben Martinez was exonerated due to the heroic efforts of his wife Maria and his own steadfast faith, but this civil case uncovered rampant misconduct by numerous officers and supervisors throughout this investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.”
“We hope that this landmark settlement will help prevent the kind of police misconduct that led to this travesty of justice and will allow Ruben and Maria to move forward with their lives,” Hoffmann added.
Hoffmann’s law partner, Nick Brustin, said, “Despite the overwhelming evidence of misconduct committed by LAPD officers throughout this investigation, the City of Los Angeles still maintained its officers and supervisors had done nothing wrong until just before trial, scheduled for September 2023, when the City agreed to pay $8 million to avoid facing a jury.”
Martinez’s wrongful conviction, as revealed in the lawsuit (here), was caused by LAPD officers’ investigative misconduct.
It was uncovered, the pleading read, that defendant officers utilized improper suggestion to acquire false identification of Martinez from witnesses, withheld evidence of other eyewitnesses that did not identify Martinez as the robber, and disregarded apparent evidence of Martinez’s innocence, which included proof of his alibi during two of the robberies.
Shortly after Martinez’s conviction, one defendant officer, Anthony Razo, pleaded guilty to felony insurance fraud after wrongfully accusing two other innocent Latino men of having committed the crimes.
In 2019, Martinez was exonerated after prosecutors agreed he did not commit the robberies. Alibi witnesses were then tracked down to prove Martinez was at work between 2005 and 2007 when some of the crimes occurred.
Expressing that religious faith carried him through the 12 years of wrongful incarceration, Martinez responded to the settlement, “I want to thank my Lord Jesus Christ for exposing the truth to the light.”
“The same work documents that would eventually exonerate me 12 years later are the same work documents that Los Angeles Police Department – Hollenbeck Division withheld from the Los Angeles County District Attorney,” continued Martinez. “The misconduct didn’t stop there: Detective Eagleson pressured key witnesses to pick me out from a line up.”
“After two trials and due to this and other false evidence, I was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 47 years and 8 months. Today, we can finally right this wrong,” added Martinez.
“LAPD-Hollenbeck Division falsely charged my husband with nine counts of Armed Robbery, but LAPD robbed me and Ruben’s family of his presence daily for 12 years,” said Maria Martinez.