The Pilot reported that court documents show the city is claiming qualified immunity – arguing the officers named in the suit did not violate “any clearly established law.”
Deputy City Attorney Michael Beverly said Small was arrested subject to a “lawful indictment” handed down by a Norfolk grand jury.
A spokesman for the Police Department declined to comment on the allegations in the lawsuit.
Small was released on June 22, 2017 after prosecutors gave her attorney an image of the video which clearly showed she was not the person selling the cocaine.
“It was obvious,” attorney Asha Pandya said in an interview, adding that her client appears about 50 pounds heavier than the woman in the footage.
Pandya said she didn’t catch the issue sooner because prosecutors initially only provided her a blurry black-and-white photo of the alleged dealer.
At an April 10 bond hearing, the judge gave Small a $5,000 secured bond, but she was unable to come up with the necessary $500 and had to remain in jail.
Pandya was not provided with a clearer color image until the morning of the scheduled trial. She immediately pointed out that it was not her client.
According to Pandya, she then showed the color photo to her client. She said Small identified the woman for investigators and that Entas immediately moved for her to be released on an unsecured bond.
Martingayle said police and prosecutors failed to take his client’s claims of innocence seriously, even though their video proved she was not the person they should have arrested.
“All they had to do was literally look in their own file,” he said. “Is that too much to ask?”