LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A federal lawsuit claims a Louisville Metro Police officer wrongfully arrested a woman and falsely testified there was surveillance video showing she stole from her employer -- even though the evidence clearly showed she didn't.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court this week on behalf of Shayla Simpson, also claims Officer John Green forged documents and told Simpson he would drop the case if she paid him $2,000, an offer she refused.
In addition, Simpson, who is represented by attorney Bethanni Forbush-Moss, claims Green told her employer, a McDonald's in the 2900 block of Breckenridge Lane, to fire her and, with help from officials at Metro Corrections, wrongfully incarcerated her, despite knowing she was innocent.
The lawsuit names the city, Green, Chief Steve Conrad, former Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton and three police officers as defendants.
Alicia Smiley, a spokeswoman for police, said there is no ongoing investigation into the case. She said the department does not comment on pending litigation. Allegations in a lawsuit present only one side of the case.
A message left for Green was not immediately returned.
Simpson was initially charged in a criminal case in Jefferson Circuit Court, but the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office requested it be dismissed. Forbush-Moss filed a motion in April telling Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Brian Edwards that Simpson was wrongfully accused and that surveillance video of the theft "clearly" showed another employee stole the money.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Cooke said a woman named Karen Hart, who was identified from store surveillance video, has been indicted in the case. The case was dismissed without Simpson acknowledging police had probable cause to arrest her. Prosecutors did not object.
In the federal lawsuit, Simpson claims she called police on August 15, 2018, when she learned the deposit from the night before was missing from the McDonald's where she worked.
According to the suit, Green was provided with the store footage of the office where the safe was located and asked Simpson to take a polygraph.
After Simpson declined, Green and Officer Payvand Rakhshan later came to the McDonald's while Simpson was working and, without a warrant, handcuffed her "very excessively tight," according to the suit. Green then allegedly told her if she would take a polygraph, he would let her go back to work; if not she would go to jail.
When Simpson again refused to take the polygraph, Green took her to Metro Corrections and wrote up arrest charges for two felony counts of theft, the suit says. Green "wanted to teach (Simpson) a lesson" for refusing the polygraph, according to the suit.
Simpson claims she was kept in custody until the next day "even though she had qualified earlier in the day to be released from jail," according to the lawsuit, which alleges Green conspired with officials at Metro Corrections.
Steve Durham, a spokesman for Metro Corrections, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Simpson claims Green told McDonald's they had to fire her. She says she was terminated after working at the restaurant for more than 20 years.
In addition, the lawsuit claims Green refused to show Simpson the surveillance tape and at one point told her he would drop the case if he gave him $2,000.
The suit argues that Simpson refused, saying she "wanted her day in court."
Green testified under oath in Jefferson District Court and in front of a grand jury that the surveillance video showed Simpson was the only person in the room with the safe after the deposit and was responsible for the theft, according to the suit. Simpson was then indicted on one charge of felony theft.
But when the surveillance video was turned over to prosecutors and the defense, it revealed other employees going into the room with the safe and "plainly showed" another person removing the money, according to the suit.
Rather than try to solve the case, police took steps to "manipulate the facts and the evidence to fit the false claim that (Simpson) was guilty of a crime," the suit says.
Also, the lawsuit claims Simpson had to cash in her retirement to care for her family and has been denied other employment opportunities because of the charges.
The suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.
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