San Carlos man who claims he was falsely arrested asks judge to declare ‘factual innocence’

By Jesse Dungan

A $6 million lawsuit isn’t good enough for a man who claims he was falsely arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence by San Carlos police last April. He also wants to be declared factually innocent.

Mark Letell Adams, 39, is expected to ask a San Mateo County Superior Court judge this morning to expunge his record and seal the case.

“I’m alleging there should never have been a process leading to me being arrested on a felony charge because I never committed any crime,” Adams said.

Adams claims officers forced their way into his Kelton Avenue home on April 23 without a search warrant or probable cause, and arrested him on suspicion of domestic violence against his wife. The police response was triggered by a call from his wife’s physician, who reported a possible domestic violence incident.

The district attorney’s office opted in June not to charge Adams.

Adams said Thursday he did not have a criminal record before the incident and although charges weren’t filed in the case, the arrest will still follow him.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said his office is opposing Adams’ request.

“The evidence wasn’t sufficient enough for us to prosecute, but we also believe the evidence does not show his innocence,” Wagstaffe said.

He argued that Adams’ wife had a finger in a splint and provided an initial statement that it was the result of domestic violence but later made conflicting statements.

Adams, who is black said the arrest violated his constitutional rights and was made in part because of a “racial bias” by the officers.

“This is racial profiling,” Adams said. “This is, on its face, racial profiling.”

In October, Adams filed his $6 million lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco against three police officers — Ronald Albertson, Michael Anderson and Justin Council — involved in his arrest and the city of San Carlos for allegedly violating his Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendment rights.

He later amended the complaint to include Deputy District Attorney Evelina Bozek, Superior Court Judge Stephen Hall and San Carlos Deputy City Attorney Linda Noeske, arguing they conspired to deny him his civil rights.

Cases of factual innocence are not always brought to the district attorney’s attention. The last one Wagstaffe could recall involved Jon Buckheit, who was arrested by Atherton police in 2008 on suspicion of domestic violence. Adams said he has been in touch with Buckheit and expects him to attend today’s hearing.

Adams claims some of his requests for audio recordings from his arrest have been denied, and those he has received appear to have been altered. He might call on Buckheit to testify as an expert witness on audio recordings, he said.