ST. PAUL (KMSP) - The city of St Paul is being sued for $12 million after a woman says she was wrongfully arrested, charged, and put in federal prison for years.
Hamdi Osman, now 26, was 20-years-old, when she was old arrested along with 28 other men and women in 2010. Nearly all of those arrested, for what her attorneys call a "far reaching sex trafficking conspiracy" that stretched between St. Paul and Tennessee, were Somali immigrants and refugees.
Osman is the first among a group of dozens of defendants to file a federal law suit. She's wants $2 million for each year she was incarcerated of under monitoring.
“As serious as the case was, I just knew that no matter what my innocence was going to be proven. I just knew this case was a lie,” Osman said.
Osman says the investigator at the center of sex trafficking investigation lied about evidence.
Released just three weeks ago, Osman is suing a St Paul police officer and the city after spending four years in federal prison and two years with an electronic monitor.
Sgt. Heather Weyker of the SPPD was the lead investigator for the case, and last month was singled out in an opinion written by a Tennessee court of appeals judge who said, “(She) likely exaggerated or fabricated important aspects of this story…Elsewhere, the district court caught Weyker lying to the grand jury and, later, lying during a detention hearing,"
Finally the judge points out, “While an overwhelming portion of the events occurred in Minnesota, the federal prosecutor in Minnesota did not prosecute this case."
At that point the United States Attorney in Tennessee dismissed the charges that were left, including Osman’s case
“You read about cases where forensic errors were made, and it was an honest mistake. But when you sit down and think this was done intentionally that's what makes this so staggering,” said Osman’s attorney Paul Applebaum.
Over the years a handful of others in the group had already been acquitted. Among them Osman was the only woman to be locked up for 6 years.
“We do hope whoever is looking at this, with respect to the government actors, treats officer Weyker like they would treat anyone else who lies in front of a grand jury, fabricates evidence, and misleads federal prosecutors. She should not receive special treatment,” said Jeffrey Storms who is another of Osman’s attorneys.
The city of St. Paul says they can't comment on ongoing litigation. At the police department and internal investigation has been launched, and while Sgt. Weyker was on paid leave, she is now assigned to the department’s Research and Development Unit and not part of any investigations
“I just hope it never happens again. And they do take this serious. It’s not fair,” Osman said.