City Settles With Wrongly-Accused Train 'Terrorist'

The insurance carrier for the city of La Junta, Colo. will pay an undisclosed amount to an Amtrak passenger who was wrongly jailed after other passengers mistook his phone conversation for terrorist threats.

In January 2010, Ojore Lutalo was on his way home to New Jersey from the Anarchist Book Fair in Los Angeles when he was arrested on suspicion of endangering public transportation, reports the Denver Post.

A couple from Missouri on board the train thought they overheard Lutalo making statements about bombs and al-Qaeda. The couple alerted the conductor, who called the police.

According to his lawsuit, other passengers sitting near Lutalo told police they had not heard him saying anything threatening. The lawsuit claims Sgt. Shawn Mobley with the La Junta police did not include those statements in reports and arrest papers.

The report submitted by Mobley also says Lutalo was born in Nigeria even though he is an American born in New Jersey. His lawyer, Francisco Martinez, says Lutalo was victim to the hysteria surrounding a Nigerian terrorist who attempted to bomb an airplane on Christmas Day 2009.

Citing a lack of evidence, the district attorney declined to file a case against Lutalo. However, he was held in custody for three days.

Martinez says Lutalo was offered $20,000 from the city, but declined to settle for that amount.

The terms of the settlement say the sum paid to Lutalo is to remain confidential, and the city does not admit liability.

Lutalo previously spent 28 years in prison for his participation in a police shoutout in 1975 and another shooting with a citizen in 1981.

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