Lorenzo Oliver, Who Sued Anaheim Over Opossum Killing Arrest, Settles for $400k

Categories: Court, Grrranimals
Granny-Clampett-Moses-Possum-Stew_square.jpg
The City of Anaheim can pretend all it wants that it is dead, but that will not disappear a $400,000 settlement with a father and son city cops arrested and detained respectively for the shovel killing of an opossum. Lorenzo Oliver's subsequent wrongful arrest lawsuit was rejected in federal court in Santa Ana, but the state appeals court overturned the ruling, finding there is no state law prohibiting possum killing.

Just ask Jed Clampett's Granny Moses!

Neighbors summoned police in March 2008 with reports Oliver's then-12-year-old son was repeatedly bashing the head of the opossum with the shovel. Anaheim Police Officers Ryan Tisdale and James Brown arrived in time to witness the spectacle and arrested the father for covering up the animal cruelty. The critter was eventually euthanized.

opossum-california_slg.jpg
R.I.P.
Oliver spent four hours in the city jail as his family arranged the $20,000 bail, and his son was detained at the police station. Criminal charges were never filed against the pair, but publicity from the case led to a backlash against the Olivers that included death threats.

The patriarch sued in federal court, claiming he and his son were wrongfully arrested and his family suffered emotional duress at the hands of police and the media. Judge Cormac Carney at the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana ruled against Oliver, so he appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

A three-judge panel concluded last summer it is not illegal to kill an opossum and that "a reasonable officer" should have known the arrests were unlawful. Oliver was allowed to sue each cop individually.

Lorenzo Oliver Can Sue Anaheim Cops for False Arrest in Opossum Slaying

The $400,000 settlement with the Anaheim City Attorney's office represents $100,000 for each hour Oliver was held in the city jail, according to his Newport Beach lawyer, Jerry Steering, who gets a cut of the award.

Hey, can Anaheim cops please wrongfully arrest me and hold me overnight? 'Cause daddy's got some major credit card debt.

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19 comments
Leigh-Anne Masek
Leigh-Anne Masek

Possums are scary creatures, but usually a hose can get rid of them as easily as a shovel.

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

Someone needs to hit oliver with a shovel for being cruel to an inocent animal living in its home land.

WideStance
WideStance

Should I hold my breath waiting for the return of the parade of well-dressed out-of-towners, who filled Council chambers for weeks, slamming the city for allowing Ringling Bros. to exhibit elephants, with thanks for standing up for the poor dead possum? Probably not, as well as expecting any contributions to repair the city's probable $400K cuts to street and park maintenance, youth programs, etc to offset the court award.  I'm not mentioning police training budget - there is evidently nothing there to cut. 

Candi Ausman
Candi Ausman

What about laws against animal cruelty? Shouldn't they have to be cited for that?

Andres Garcia
Andres Garcia

I'd like to know who paid for that ? But of course

Catherine Turley
Catherine Turley

friggin serial killers-in-the-making are now rewarded because the system doesn't work and the righteous can't afford to fight.

Andre Miller
Andre Miller

Good Job APD...you just cost your city tax payers 400K because you failed to understand California law.

beachbumrap
beachbumrap

Matt, 

Please correct the wrong word in the following quote from your story, "... finding their is no state law prohibiting possum killing.", and then resubmit for your final grade. 

Michael Moon
Michael Moon

How much did the attorney that took the case pocket?

949girl
949girl topcommenter

I'm with the cops on this one.  Why were they bashing a possum over the head with a shovel?  Possums are ugly but they don't cause any harm to people or other animals.  I have to deal with them on a regular basis in my backyard but I would never torture one.  I hope the dad gets his karma on this one!

jasongarneryoung
jasongarneryoung

Outrageous. Those clowns should have been prosecuted for animal cruelty.

x2lazyx
x2lazyx

@949girl from what i heard was their family dog was being attack by the opossum and the son didnt know what to do but swing lol

sayingittoomuch
sayingittoomuch

@949girl Yeah. I agree. Clearly, the officers had no legal grounds, though, it's pretty natural to wish they did. I'm sorry they had to add this one to all the stuff they already take on in the job. I wonder if another viable lawsuit might be from neighbors who were traumatized by witnessing a probable unnecessary and cruel attack. If so, I would think the shovel family would understand being sued for it.

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