Man given beer during police interrogation plans to file a civil - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Man given beer during police interrogation plans to file a civil lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Seven years after a jury convicted a man for arson, he's out of jail because investigators gave him alcohol the day he confessed.

"When I got into the room, an officer came and said, 'Hey I got something for you,'" U.B. Thomas said. "He handed me a beer. It was a 24 ounce can of OE 800 malt liquor."

A judge ruled that beer changed the outcome of U.B. Thomas' 2009 arson case.

"I'm already still intoxicated from the night before," Thomas said of the interrogation day.

Because of that beer, Thomas said he falsely confessed.

"I can't let this go, and I pursued this for eight years constantly," he said. "I wrote everybody I could think of."

In March, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens vacated Thomas' conviction and 20-year-prison sentence. Stevens ruled jurors in the 2010 trial should have been told arson investigators provided Thomas beer and pizza.

"I blame me first, for being an addict, for being an alcoholic, for being powerless at that moment, for taking something from my enemies who I thought were my friends, to consume it to trust them," Thomas said. "Now that I showed you I'm innocent, I blame Metro Government and everything that follows underneath that."

Thomas must remain at the Healing Place as a judge ordered a new trial, although no court dates have been set. He and his attorney are now planning to file a civil lawsuit and have up to a year to do so. 

"U.B. Thomas deserves to be compensated for the eight years of life he lost, and it's my job to get that for him." Attorney Aaron Bentley said. "No amount of compensation can ever be adequate for losing that much time of your life, so what we'll do is ask the people of Jefferson County to tell us what's adequate."

While behind bars, his brother was shot and killed in another high-profile case.

"My brother Darnell Thomas Wicker, he gets gunned down by police in Shively, and my mind goes crazy," Thomas said. "Did they kill him because of me? Because I'm getting ready, and they know I've got a hold on something..."

The Commonwealth's Attorney said that shooting by LMPD officers was ruled justified. Thomas said his claim is just speculation and knows that case has nothing do with his case, but in jail he said his mind started to wander. 

Thomas now credits his faith for helping him get through these tough times.

"What I want to come out of this ... is that this doesn't happen to anybody else," he said.

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