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Lawsuit alleges false imprisonment

Lawsuit alleges false imprisonment

A Selkirk woman has filed suit against the Schenectady Police Department, alleging she was arrested

A Selkirk woman has filed suit against the Schenectady Police Department, alleging she was arrested and spent the night in jail on a warrant issued for someone else.

Heather M. Collins, 29, filed suit Wednesday in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County, alleging false imprisonment and violation of her civil rights.

The arrest warrant, her attorney Mark A. Myers said, was for someone with the same first and last name but different middle initial, different date of birth and different address. She wasn’t freed until she saw a judge and got an attorney in the morning, spending 10 to 11 hours in custody.

The case involves both the Schenectady police and the town of Coeymans police, Myers said. The precursor to a lawsuit has been filed against Coeymans, he said.

Collins, according to Myers, was falsely arrested around midnight April 4, 2009, as she was returning home from work. She was stopped in Coeymans for a nonvisible front license plate. The plate was on her dashboard and not readily visible to the officer, Myers said.

But a check turned up the warrant from Schenectady. Coeymans police checked with Schenectady, and Collins was taken directly to be turned over, Myers said.

“The date of birth was wrong, the address was wrong. She told them over and over again it wasn’t her,” said Myers, who is with the Schenectady-based DeLorenzo firm. “Had they done their due diligence, she never would have spent the night in jail.”

Myers said his information is that Coeymans never got a copy of the warrant and acted on information Schenectady provided.

Newspaper records indicate a woman with the same name but different middle initial was arrested in Schenectady on a welfare fraud count in 2007.

Myers said the warrant his client was picked up on was related to welfare fraud allegations.

Schenectady Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden said Friday he was aware of the earlier notice of claim but couldn’t comment on the details of the case.

Police Commissioner Wayne Bennett referred comments to Van Norden.

Coeymans officials could not be reached for comment.

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