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Forest Grove man sues Hillsboro for false arrest

A Forest Grove man filed a $4 million lawsuit last week against the city of Hillsboro and seven police officers, claiming he was falsely arrested July 4, 2014, and held in jail for several days for pharmacy robberies it turned out he was not associated with in any way.

In his lawsuit, Adam Horstman claims Hillsboro police officers gave a Washington County judge and prosecutor “false and misleading information which caused Plaintiff to be prosecuted without probable cause.”

The lawsuit says Horstman “sustained severe psychiatric injury and emotional distress,” including “depression” and “personal humiliation.” The lawsuit also claims Horstman lost his job and racked up attorney fees and medical expenses — specifically for therapy — due to the arrest.

The snowball of events started in May of last year when a man resembling Horstman robbed several pharmacies in Hillsboro and Beaverton.

Hillsboro police eventually arrested Shawn Michael Simmons, 29, of Beaverton, for those robberies. 

On May 18, 2014, Simmons allegedly used a gun to rob a Rite Aid on 185th Avenue and got away with prescription opiate pain medications. Officers now believe Simmons also robbed three other pharmacies, including a Hillsboro Albertsons June 30.

That same day, June 30, Horstman went to the Rite Aid pharmacy on 185th Avenue that Simmons had robbed in May. Two Rite Aid employees called police to report “that a person who looked like the person who had robbed them on May 18 had just left the store,” court documents say.

The prescription Horstman was filling was written for him that day at the Providence St. Vincent Medical Center’s emergency room—during a visit that took place at the same time Simmons was robbing the Hillsboro Albertsons. Officers did not recognize this fact, the lawsuit points out.

After being alerted by the Rite Aid employees, Hillsboro officers kept an eye on Horstman but did not notice anything unusual about him.

Nonetheless, on July 4 they searched his Forest Grove home, where they found “no instrumentalities of the robberies, no fruits of the robberies, and no evidence of drug trafficking,” the lawsuit reads.

Two officers interrogated Horstman that day but “made no efforts to determine where he was during the robberies” and “managed to trick Plaintiff into saying ‘That’s me’ when shown a partial photograph of the robber,” states the lawsuit, adding that Horstman retracted that statement when he was shown the full photograph.

Officers also failed to disclose in their probable cause affadavit that “four separate eye witnesses were shown photo arrays with Plaintiff’s photo and did not identify him.”

The lawsuit also points out that officers “modified the physical description of the suspect to more closely match” Horstman. In addition, a note used by Simmons during the June 30 robbery had “latent fingerprints capable of being matched to a known print.” The prints on the paper were later matched to Simmons.

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