A mentally disabled Pacifica man spent 40 days behind bars after police mistakenly tied him to a bogus threat to bomb a Caltrain and then failed to turn over evidence of the man's innocence to his attorney, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.
The San Mateo County Sheriff's deputy investigating the Aug. 16, 2009 incident incorrectly wrote down one digit of the phone number from which the threat to blow up a train had come, the suit says. That erroneous number lead police to 27-year-old Antonio Santiago who, despite his innocence, eventually caved to pressure from police questioners and admitted making the call, the suit says.
Just days after his Aug. 17 arrest, police ran forensic tests on Santiago's cell phone and saw that no calls had been made from it to Caltrain, the suit says. Yet that information was not turned over to Santiago's attorney at the time, Patrick Concannon. Santiago pleaded no contest to a felony count of making a false bomb threat on Aug. 27, 2009.
The suit, which was filed last week in San Jose federal court, names San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks as well as the officer who allegedly miswrote the phone number, Deputy Michael McVay. The San Mateo County Transit District, Sheriff's Detective Victor Lopez and Sheriff's Lt. Gregory Eatmon are also defendants.
Incidentally the prosecutor on this case was Melissa Mckowan. Mckowan is being investigated by a government agency for misconduct on two cases as well as being sued for lying to a judge to get out of trying a case.