ROTTERDAM — William Harwood, who was falsely arrested in 2020 by Rotterdam Police Department after incorrectly submitting a photo for the sex offender registry due to improper procedural practices by an officer has now settled a lawsuit with the town and police department.
The Town Board agreed to pay Harwood a $35,000 settlement in a unanimous vote Wednesday night. Harwood will keep $23,000 and the rest will be given to the Jafri Law Firm that represented him.
No town board members commented on the matter at the meeting.
The settlement comes more than a year after Harwood filed a lawsuit against the town on March 21, 2021 for damages due to the emotional distress he suffered from the incident.
Harwood said in court documents that in 2018 he was required to provide the department with an updated photo for the registry, where he was listed as a Level 1 sex offender. Harwood insisted on going to the department for the photo but was told by Officer Claude Sawyer to just submit a current photo via a text message, according to documents.
It wasn’t until 2020 when another officer at the department was looking through the database that the department realized there was not an updated photo for Harwood. Because there was no updated photo Harwood was arrested and was in jail for four days.
Sawyer did not contest the notice of violation placed on his employee record, and the department disciplined him by requiring he forfeit eight hours of accrued time.
Harwood said Wednesday that he has no malice toward the police department and in fact thinks they’re one of the best around and this was just a “clerical error” that he deserves to be compensated for.
“It’s just an unfortunate thing,” he said.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette.