Exonerated Idaho man sends city notice he intends to sue

Posted at 3:39 PM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 17:39:29-05

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A man who was jailed for a killing he didn’t commit has sent the city of Idaho Falls a notice that he intends to sue the Police Department.

Christopher Tapp sent the notice saying he will seek damages for his unjust conviction and imprisonment for more than 20 years, the Post Register reported Thursday. The lawsuit may not be filed for months.

The notice accuses police of violating Tapp’s constitutional rights as well as wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, negligence, infliction of emotional distress, defamation and malicious prosecution.

Idaho Falls officials have confirmed the city received the notice.

Tapp was arrested in 1997, and a jury convicted him a year later of raping and killing Angie Dodge in 1996.

Prosecutors based their case on Tapp’s confession and testimony from a woman claiming to overhear him and another man talking about stabbing Dodge.

Tapp’s confession came under scrutiny after Judges for Justice and the Idaho Innocence Project reviewed recordings of his statements. They showed officers had told Tapp he could face the death penalty if he did not confess and that he could receive a light sentence if he named others who were involved.

DNA evidence from the crime scene didn’t match Tapp or any of those he named.

Tapp was released from prison in 2017 in a plea agreement that dismissed the rape conviction but kept the murder conviction on his record.

In May, police said they found a match for the suspect’s DNA and arrested Brian Dripps, who told officers he acted alone and did not know Tapp.

Prosecutors filed a motion to exonerate Tapp that District Judge Alan Stephens accepted on July 17.

Tapp referred all requests for comment to his attorney, Peter Neufeld.

Neufeld has accused the Police Department of ignoring evidence showing Tapp was innocent. Neufeld, who co-founded the Innocence Project and was a defense attorney for O.J. Simpson during his 1995 murder trial, spoke at Tapp’s exoneration in July.

The Police Department said it was “proud of the work done in recent months” that led to Dripps’ arrest.

“The city has received notice of Mr. Tapp’s intent to file a lawsuit and will participate in the legal process moving forward,” police spokeswoman Jessica Clements said in a statement Thursday.