Ferguson Refiles Paperwork to Keep City in Lawsuit

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COLUMBIA - Ryan Ferguson and his attorneys submitted more paperwork Friday to make sure the City of Columbia is included in a lawsuit where Ferguson alleges several public officials violated his constitutional rights during the investigation into the murder of Kent Heitholt.

Ferguson was convicted of the murder of the Columbia Tribune sports editor in 2005 and spent nearly ten years in prison before having his conviction vacated in November 2013. 

The City of Columbia was included in the original complaint filed to the U.S. district court by Ferguson and his lawyers, Kathleen Zellner, Samuel Henderson and Douglas Johnson, in early March, but a legal technicality caused a federal judge to dismiss the city from the case March 27.

"We had to revise it because the way the statues are set up," said Bill Ferguson, Ryan Ferguson's father. "Every state is a little different, so there's not a uniform way of doing it." 

Ryan Ferguson is now alleging that the City of Columbia, as well as Boone County, violated Ferguson's due process, a right guaranteed by the 14th amendment. In the first filing, the City of Columbia and Boone County were listed as "indemnifiers" for the other defendants.

Bill Ferguson said the change is hold the city liable for what he called a failure of the system.

"Basically we are saying that the city failed to train and supervise their police force, which led to a lot of problems," Bill Ferguson said.  

The complaint lists the unconstitutional practices Ryan Ferguson alleges city officials committed. The list includes suppressing and destroying evidence, fabricating evidence, intentionally failing to investigate potential leads and several other violations. 

The city is one of the thirteen defendants listed in the complaint. The listed defendants are City of Columbia, Boone County, CPD detectives John Short, Jeff Nichols, Jeff Westbrook, Bryan Liebhart, Latisha Stroer and Lloyd Simons, CPD Sergeant Stephen Monticelli, former CPD Police Chief Randy Boehm, Boone County prosecuting attorney investigators William Haws and Ben White and former Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane. 

Ferguson is seeking $100 million dollars in damages for the alleged civil rights violations.

"Who can say what it's worth? I would love for somebody to tell me what they think ten years of Ryan's time in prison would be worth," Bill Ferguson said.  

Ryan Ferguson is seeking compensation for emotional distress, lost wages and loss of liberty among other reasons.