Court denies CPD officers immunity in Ryan Ferguson lawsuit
JEFFERSON CITY - A U.S. District judge has ruled against an immunity claim by several current and former Columbia police officersbeing sued by Ryan Ferguson.
Ferguson, whose conviction in the Kent Heitholt murder case was vacated in 2013. He later filed a lawsuit against officers with the Columbia Police Department at the time of his arrest, claiming their failure to properly investigate the case - including the fabrication of evidence and coercion of co-suspect Charles Erickson - led to his conviction and subsequent time in prison.
The officers tried to claim qualified immunity, which protects government officers from civil liability as long as their actions don't violate a person's federal constitutional rights.
In Judge Nanette Laughrey's ruling, she decided against the defendants, saying "the Court finds as a matter of law that Ferguson has stated a viable constitutional claim based on the Defendants’ use of Erickson’s testimony to convict Ferguson, knowing his testimony contained unreliable or fabricated evidence."