Woman freed from prison amid Tulsa police corruption scandal may sue federal government, says court

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An appellate court panel has reversed a federal judge’s dismissal of a civil rights lawsuit filed by a Tulsa woman who was freed from prison in the wake of a Tulsa police corruption probe.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that Larita Barnes, 41, can continue to pursue her lawsuit against the federal government regarding her claims that a special agent from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives violated her civil rights when he took part in her 2007 arrest and subsequent conviction.

Calling former ATF special agent Brandon McFadden a “disgrace to law enforcement,” the three-judge appellate court panel in Denver disagreed with claims by the federal government that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the agent was acting outside the scope of his employment.

“McFadden could not have performed his authorized duties more despicably, but he was acting within the customary scope of his duties,” an opinion authored by U.S. Circuit Judge Harris L. Hartz says.

The order points to an affidavit provided by McFadden that indicated he “did not do these acts for personal gain,” and the reason he did undertake them “was to help the United States of America … successfully prosecute Barnes.”

Mark Lyons, Barnes’ attorney, said McFadden’s statement that he did not benefit personally from the prosecution of his client “saved this case.”

“My client … literally had nothing that she did wrong with regard to this other than they just targeted her because they thought she and her family were selling drugs and they couldn’t catch them,” Lyons said.

U.S. District Judge John Dowdell dismissed Barnes’ lawsuit April 21, 2015.

 

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