Public apology for public kidnap suspect?

In the past 5-10 years there have been two famous solvings of long-term kidnappings which have lead to the return of the kidnapped child. Under both, a person innocent of that crime was suspected of having committed it.

In one, the man innocent of that crime spent his last days unfree, in jail. In the second, it lead to his divorce due to being hounded by the law and perhaps lingering suspicions.

Have there ever been public apologies by the police for ruining those two people’s lives (or what was left of their life)?

I put this in GQ because I genuinely want to know. My opinion is that if there has not been such an apology, it shows a callous moral failing on the part of law personnel: even if the false suspicion was not caused due to gross negligence on the part of law enforcement, you should still express one’s regret for both ruining a life and potentially leading to the crime not being solved due to not looking for the real criminal.

If you are referring to Richard Riecie (sp?) an early suspect in Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapping, (until the couple who actually nabbed her were eventually caught walking around the Salt Lake suburbs with her) who died in prison while under a cloud of suspicion, as I recall, when his widow tried to sue the Utah Dept. Of Corrections, her lawsuit was thrown out, because he had technically been put back for a parole violation, even though it was clear he was really being held for the Elizabeth Smart case.

It was a shitty way that Utah treated this guy and his family, and Ed and Lois Smart don’t seem to feel badly that an innocent guy died in prison with the whole world (or at least a majority of Utahns) thinking that he was a child killer when he was really just a petty criminal and nickel and dime junkie, who happened to fall under a cloud of wild, half-baked suspicion.

Richard Ricci’s widow actually settled her lawsuit against the state for $150,000. The case against the city was thrown out.

While you could argue that he was clearly innocent of this crime, there was a legitimate reason to suspect him. And it’s a stretch to call him "a nickel and dime junkie.: He had a 30-year rap sheet which included armed robbery and attempted murder of a police officer.

I was unaware that his widow got anything at all; I just remember that there was a lawsuit dismissed. (I guess the one against the city is the case I remember).

I was also unaware (forgotten?) that he had a violent crime background—I was living in SLC during the first part of the Smart saga, but was out of the country for a pretty big chunk of time after Elizabeth was finally found safe, so the details are a bit off I guess…

That said, did Ed and Lois Smart ever acknowledge that picking up random homeless people to do work on thier $800,000 avenues mansion (and only paying them a fraction of what they would have payed an actual contractor) was not such a bright idea after all?

Not sure… I haven’t read the book he wrote, but I recall him saying that he thought he was helping out those folks by giving them work. I do remember him saying at some point that one of the workers (maybe Ricci) had stolen some property from their house.

The widow’s lawsuit against the city was thrown out because she accused them of mistreating her husband in prison, but he was not actually in their custody. He was held in a state prison.

Thanks for the info about the settlement – I guess if I had to have a choice between $150,000 and a public apology I’d take the money but pretend it was only grudgingly :slight_smile: (when it gets to around $20K then I’d have to stop and think)

It’s always a catch-22

The cops fall back on, “It’s our job to follow up EVERY lead and collect data, then have the grand jury or DA prosecute the best of the lot.”

Of course the DA falls back on, “We don’t investigate, it’s our job to prosecute and find guilty those brought to us.”

The grand jury is composed of so many people each person can rightfully declare his lack of guilt as he was only a tiny portion of the group.

The problem stems from the fact we’re taught the legal system is about seeking justice. It’s not, it’s about find guilty people and seeking revenge on them. Sometimes justice and revenge are the same, other times they are very distant relations.

The only way you can win any lawsuit is if he DA or police are malicious in their attitude. That is they are going out of their way and ignoring other leads to the innocent person’s detriment.

Try proving a behaviour is malicious versus just thorough and you can see the quandry. The public wants the police to catch criminals, but no one knows what the place should be once their caught or what the role in society is once they are released.

For instance, we teach a person has served his time and people think that means the slate is wiped clean. This is a grave error, it’s never wiped clean again, NOR should it be. We should be teaching people, as we did in the old days, people in prison are going to be “lessor” amongst the general population, so you should avoid going to prison.

But we don’t we glorify prison life and then act all uppity when someone comes down on an ex-crim.

And the issue is much more complex than I am portraying it here as black and white, which is a great debate.

You would have to prove specific misconduct, and that’s a tough burden to meet simply because you’re wrongly accused.

In the Ricci case, the widow sued for libel and slander, but the courts ruled that law enforcement officers expressing their suspicions (or even arresting someone) couldn’t be construed as libelous.

In fact, there was ample reason for police to suspect Ricci, even though it ultimately turned out that he had nothing to do with that crime. Now if police had planted evidence or coerced witnesses to invent stories, it’s a whole different ballgame.

Well, if you follow everything someone does for several months, you’re bound to find something suspicious.

Perhaps. The way they got Ricci on a parole violation was to show up at his house and catch him drinking.

But Ricci was on their radar because the Smarts named him as a likely suspect, based on several run-ins with the guy. After his arrest (9-days after the abduction), police found items in his house that had been stolen from the Smart’s house. His alibi was fishy. It would have been misconduct for the police to not question him.

I think in most cases like this, the persons who were incorrectly identified as ‘people of interest’ had pretty checkered pasts. As a result I can’t say I have a lot of sympathy for them, even if they are sitting in jail. However that’s not always the case. Poor Richard Jewelshould have been hailed as a hero for discovering a pipe bomb during the Olympics in Atlanta. His life was ruined when the media reported he was a suspect.

True, but Richard Jewell was never even arrested. It was the media that harassed and hounded him and concocted stories about him.

The OP mentioned two recent kidnap cases where the recovery of the victims revealed that the perpetrator was not the original suspect. I presumed he was talking about the Elizabeth Smart case and Jaycee Dugard… but I wasn’t aware that there were ever any serious suspect in the Dugard case.