Updated: December 03, 2020 12:44 PM
Created: December 02, 2020 09:06 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 17-year-old girl who was wrongly arrested, falsely charged with murder, then put in jail is filing a lawsuit against the city of Albuquerque.
Gisell Estrada was involved in a case of mistaken identity last year. APD arrested her for armed robbery and first degree murder. She was charged as an adult and spent a week in jail. Estrada was released after APD arrested a different person.
The lawsuit, which is expected to be filed Thursday morning by the ACLU and a private law firm, is considering claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and violation of Estrada’s state rights. It goes on to describe Estrada as “an innocent child with no criminal history” charged with a heinous crime she never committed.
While Estrada was in custody for a week, the lawsuit states “she was treated like a violent criminal and repeatedly strip-searched. She didn’t eat, and she barely slept. She racked her brain trying to understand why this was happening to her. She thought—hoped—that she was just having a nightmare.”
Estrada claims the experience continues to affect her and her family.
The lawsuit lays the blame on APD homicide detective Jessie Carter. They claim he botched the murder investigation and showed another person’s Facebook photo to Estrada’s school for identification.
“I forwarded the same two photos that were positively identified to me as Lexi to our officer that works at Albuquerque High. He was advised that the woman was Gisell Estrada," Carter said.
Estrada’s lawyer claimed the detective included a false statement and listed 10 ways the detective could have verified that Estrada was not involved, including talking to her and her teachers.
The suit claims that no one from the city, APD, or APS has apologized to her for what happened.
The person who is actually accused in this murder case is Lexi Barazzo, who has been behind bars for a year and has a pretrial conference set for January.
The lawsuit is also seeking retribution for what Estrada had to go through after she was released. Her lawyer said some students and teachers continued to believe Estrada was the suspect because of a newspaper article. The principal had to send a letter to students and staff saying to stop asking Estrada about what happened.
According to the court documents, Estrada has been attending counseling and has trouble trusting police.
The city of Albuquerque did not issue a comment on the pending litigation.
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