By Jeremy Pawloski The Olympian • Published March 24, 2009
A man who lived in an underground shelter in Watershed Park in Olympia has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Olympia Police Department alleging false arrest and wrongful imprisonment after he was arrested for the 2007 rape of an 11-year-old girl.
Olympia police arrested David Lukas Lynch on Feb. 6, 2007, after an Olympia police officer found Lynch outside of a southeast Olympia church near where the attack occurred. According to court records, Lynch had a notebook that described his "need to get over his 'child hunting game.' "
Prosecutors dismissed charges against Lynch on Feb. 22, after DNA taken from the victim did not match Lynch's DNA.
A man who lived in the same neighborhood as the girl, Peter James Inouye, 26, was convicted of the girl's rape in November 2008. Inouye's DNA matched the DNA that was taken from the rape victim, according to court testimony. In January, Inouye was sentenced to more than 60 years in prison.
A defense attorney representing the city of Olympia, Donald Law, has filed a response to Lynch's civil lawsuit, stating that "the plaintiff's detention and arrest were lawful." Olympia Police Cmdr. Tor Bjornstad said late Monday that he has not seen the suit, and referred comment to the attorney representing the city.
According to the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma:
The evening after the rape, Olympia Police Officer Mike Hovda saw a man sitting on the east side of a church off of McCormick Street. The man, Lynch, appeared to look at the officer, and Hovda drove up to him. Lynch was writing in his journal in a "well-lighted parking lot." Lynch did not initially respond when Hovda asked him what he was doing.
Lynch had "shoulder length brown hair and pale skin" and "did not match the description given by the victim."
The victim had described her attacker as having short hair, "black and flat," wearing glasses with circular lenses and white frames. She also described him as having a thin mustache.
Hovda called for backup, and three more Olympia officers arrived. Hovda asked Lynch his name, and Lynch provided it. Hovda asked Lynch if he could search him for weapons, and Lynch stood up and complied. Hovda "asked him if he felt bad about something he might have done, making reference to the rape that had occurred the night before. Hovda asked him specifically if he had entered a house last night and David replied, 'I did not break into any house last night. I did not hurt anyone.' "
The officers began questioning Lynch, and Sgt. Aaron Jelcick later told Lynch, "We know you did it, Mr. Lynch. Just tell us why."
"At no time during this conversation was Mr. Lynch advised of his rights," reads the suit. It also contends that because of "the officers' questioning" and "show of force" that he did not feel free to leave. The suit said Lynch immediately asked for an attorney.
When officers told Lynch he was going with them for questioning, he "believed he was under arrest at that time. He did not feel he had any choice but to go with the officers."
While at the church, Jelcick searched Lynch's backpack and started reading from his notebook. Jelcick told Lynch that "everybody had skeletons that they were ashamed of and it was those people who stood accountable for their actions that would ultimately gain the respect of others," reads the suit.
The next day, Olympia police issued a news release stating that Lynch "matched the description of the rapist," reads the suit.
According to the suit, probable cause for Lynch's arrest was not developed until after they brought him to the police station.
"A photographic montage was done with the victim, but she did not identify Mr. Lynch," reads the suit.
Lynch was subsequently arrested and charged with several felonies, including first-degree burglary, first-degree child rape and first-degree assault of a child.
"During Mr. Lynch's incarceration for crimes he did not commit, he suffered a psychological breakdown which included him attempting to chew his wrists to the point of bleeding to death," the suit reads. "He was subsequently sent to Western State Hospital" where he "developed a deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism which required further medical treatment at St. Claire Hospital in Lakewood."
The suit said Lynch continues to suffer physically and psychologically as a result of the arrest.
The suit alleges that "(P)rior to February 6, 2007, the City of Olympia developed and maintained policies and customs exhibiting deliberate indifference to the constitutional right(s) of persons in the City of Olympia," and that "it was a policy and/or custom of the city of Olympia to inadequately and improperly investigate citizen complaints of police misconduct and the acts of misconduct were instead tolerated by the City of Olympia, including but not limited to the following incidents."