$2 million award in false arrest case

By: Jeff Coen, Chicago Tribune: October 24th, 2007

A federal jury awarded more than $2 million Tuesday to a man who claimed he was falsely arrested and charged with attempted child abduction.

Timothy Finwall, 40, said two Chicago detectives concocted a case against him in 2001 after a composite sketch was circulated in his neighborhood, and he emerged as a convenient suspect. He eventually was acquitted in criminal court and says he has been fully vindicated.

The ironworker said he believes the jury’s decision proves police got the wrong person.

“It’s been 6½ years, and it’s over,” Finwall said at a news conference Tuesday at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse. Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department, said the city stands by the policework of Martin Garcia and Dion Boyd. Both the young victim and her mother testified against Finwall.

Hoyle said the city is disappointed with the jury award and would consider its appeal options.

Finwall and his attorneys accused the officers of manipulating an identification of Finwall by putting him in a lineup with four police officers. Hoyle said the officers denied that claim.

The case began March 24, 2001, with a complaint that a white male had approached an 8-year-old girl and asked her to go on a field trip, Finwall’s attorney, Michael Kanovitz, said.

Finwall, an Ashburn resident who is a former Marine, says that at the time of the incident he was at work.

But an anonymous caller allegedly tipped police to Finwall’s resemblance to the composite sketch, and Kanovitz contended that detectives then began working evidence to fit Finwall and concocting statements. He eventually was acquitted in July 2002.

He said he has a message for the detectives who he says framed him.

“I’d like to let them know that they ruined my whole life,” he said. “And now hopefully I can get it back.”

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