Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Oakland Officer Files Slander Suit Against City

A former Oakland police officer sued the city for slander after being cleared of charges he was part of a rogue band of police officers known as "the Riders" that planted evidence and abused suspects.

Matt Hornung, 34, is seeking $5 million in the federal civil rights lawsuit filed April 3 in San Francisco federal court. The suit accuses officers Keith Batt and Steve Hewison and Sgt. Jon Madarang of lying in court to try to convict Hornung and two other officers.

The suit claims the defendants slandered Hornung when they called the accused officers "bad apples" and "a cancer which needed to be cut from the department."

They "engaged in a series of lies and false testimony" and need to be held accountable for their actions, said Hornung's attorney, Ed Fishman of Sebastopol.

A spokeswoman for Oakland City Attorney John Russo declined to comment because she had not seen the lawsuit.

Hornung, Clarence "Chuck" Mabanag and Jude Siapno were accused of abusing their power by assaulting or framing West Oakland residents in 2000.

A fourth officer, alleged ringleader Frank Vazquez, is a fugitive. All four were fired.

After two trials, Hornung was acquitted of making a false statement in a police report and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Mabanag and Siapno after a jury deadlocked on most of the counts against them.

The three officers are seeking reinstatement. A hearing is scheduled April 21 in Alameda County Superior Court on whether to send the case to arbitration.

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