Phoenix Sued for Wrongful Arrest in Arson Case

An innocent man who spent 14 months in jail on arson charges has filed suit against the city of Phoenix and the arson investigators who accused him of setting the fire.

Carl Vincent Ball Caples filed suit in Maricopia County Superior Court last week claiming the city failed to hire properly trained investigators, failed to provide the investigators with proper training, and permitted them to use outdated and discredited investigation techniques leading to his wrongful arrest and incarceration.

Named in the suit is former Phoenix Fire Chief Robert Khan, former Fire Marshal Jack Ballentine, and Captains Sam Richardson, Fred Andes and William Nelson.

Caples was arrested following a fire in his home on May 7, 2009. A subsequent investigation conducted by an expert hire by his defense attorney concluded the fire was electrical in nature and accidental, a finding that prosecutors found credible. Caples, a former law enforcement officer from Mississippi, could not afford bail and served 14 months in prison while the case wound itself through the system.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery considered prosecuting Richardson and Andes for false swearing in the Caples case and another one, but has since declined to do so. Montgomery has said publicly he will not prosecute any more of their cases and is reviewing roughly 30 past and present cases.

Here is a copy of the complaint:  2014-11-12-Complaint

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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