Clovis man suing city, police
June 28, 2020
CLOVIS — A Clovis man is suing the city, its police department and a former officer, alleging he was arrested and jailed without probable cause on shoplifting charges.
The suit by Cory Knight alleges Officer John Hong of the Clovis Police Department sought a warrant against Knight in June of 2018 for stealing a box of beer from a convenience store despite information during the investigation that should have eliminated Knight as a suspect.
The Clovis Police Department declined comment, and noted Hong is no longer with CPD.
Knight, 19 at the time, was arrested on a warrant for the June shoplifting following a July 13 traffic stop. He was held in the Roosevelt County Detention Center for four days before his arraignment.
Charges of shoplifting and a minor in possession of alcohol were dismissed that November on the grounds of lack of probable cause.
The lawsuit alleges:
• Hong was told by the convenience store clerk the shoplifter was a light-skinned African American male, about 6 feet tall and 35 years old. Knight was 16 years younger, had a dark complexion and stood 6-foot-6.
• Security footage from the store indicated the shoplifter’s head was several feet lower than the top of the door opening, but a photo of Knight taken following his arraignment showed his head was only a few inches short of the top of the same doorway.
• The clerk interviewed by police was shown Knight’s driver’s license photo and confirmed him as the shoplifter, but said another clerk had already told her Knight was the shoplifter. The plaintiff alleges the clerk identified Knight not because of her recollection but because of suggestive influence from Hong and her coworker.
City Manager Justin Howalt had no comment on the case.