Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – Kyle Zoellner, initially charged as a suspect in the killing of David Josiah Lawson, has filed a claim against the City of Arcata. The charges against Zoellner, who attended the April 15 party at which Lawson was stabbed to death, were later dismissed.
In a statement, the McKinleyville resident alleges arrest without probable cause, creation of a false police report, malicious prosecution and wrongful imprisonment, illegal search and seizure and defamation of character in public statements and city press releases.
Zoellner’s claim, which was filed Oct. 13 and appears on next week’s City Council Consent Calendar, lists damages as lost wages, medical bills, loss of personal property, defamation of character, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
It names numerous public officials and city staff members as being responsible, including all of the City Council, Police Chief Tom Chapman and five APD officers, plus other unnamed city employees who are complicit.
Zoellner’s statement also states that he was “assaulted and brutally beaten unconscious” by multiple assailants at the party and was placed in an APD car at the scene “for an extended amount of time” in a semi-conscious state and without medical treatment.
He says APD filed a false report with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, but then failed to file a supplemental report to the DA regarding the assault when one was requested.
The City Council routinely refers all damage claims to its municipal insurance carrier. Chapman declined comment on the substance of the claim because it includes pending litigation or a threat thereof. He said the claim had been reviewed by city officials.
Lawson reward now $55K
The reward for information leading directly to the arrest and conviction of Lawson’s killer now stands at $55,000. If more than one person provides identical information, the reward will be equally divided amongst those people.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Arcata Police Department at (707) 822-2428 during normal business hours, or (707) 822-2424 after hours and on weekends.