NORWALK (CNS) - A woman is suing the city of Whittier, accusing its police department of wrongfully retaining computers and other personal property seized from her after her husband was falsely accused of the killings of two men years earlier.
Victoria Adhara Wall's Norwalk Superior Court lawsuit alleges conversion of property and seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. A representative for the city of Whittier did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Thursday.
According to Wall's complaint, in June 2017, a Whittier Police Department detective obtained a warrant to search the plaintiff's then- residence on Summit Drive. Wall believes that the warrant's affidavit contained the false allegation that her husband, Richard Wall, was responsible for the shooting deaths of 35-year-old Juan Gabriel Ramirez-Mendez and 53-year-old Jeffrey Tidus.
Tidus was shot in the head outside his Rolling Hills Estates home on Dec. 7, 2009, shortly after he went outside to get a laptop computer from his car. A former member of the State Bar Board of Governors, Tidus represented many high-profile corporate clients, including New Century Financial, a now- defunct sub-prime lender.
Tidus had previously won a lawsuit verdict on behalf of a client who was in a business spat with Richard Wall and another man, according to earlier media reports.
Ramirez-Mendez was shot to death in his Painter Avenue apartment in Whittier on Feb. 26, 2011, and his children were present in the residence, police said. Authorities determined that the victim was a former employee of Richard Wall's business who sued his boss two years earlier, alleging that Wall failed to pay employees overtime and did not allow them to take breaks, according to media reports, which also state that the case settled for an undisclosed amount.
But according to Victoria Wall's suit, "there was absolutely no probable cause to believe Mr. Wall had anything to do with the death of either individual" and the detective who submitted the affidavit knew or should have known that he did not have probable cause to obtain the search warrant.
"There were no witnesses linking Mr. Wall to any crime," the suit states. "Likewise, there was no documentary or forensic evidence linking Mr. Wall to a crime."
The detective likely had "nothing more than a hunch about Mr. Wall's involvement, nothing more," the suit states.
Nonetheless, police seized at least 11 pieces of Victoria Wall's personal property, including laptops, iPads, cell phones, bank records, photo albums and personal journals, none of which "bore any logical nexus with a felony offense," the suit states.
Victoria Wall maintains there is no lawful or investigative reason for the WPD to retain the property.
A warrant also was obtained to search a Whittier business on Byron Road for which Victoria Wall had a controlling interest and police seized more than 20 computer systems belonging to the plaintiff, even though once again these items bore no connection to a felony crime and also were never returned, the suit states.
A third warrant was obtained by police in August 2017 for a search of a Fullerton Airport hangar in which Victoria Wall had an interest, the suit states. Still more personal property belonging to the plaintiff was seized and never returned, including computers, tax records and a pilot log book, according to the suit.
Victoria Wall, who now lives in the Balkan southeastern European country of Montenegro, believes the detective assigned to the case has refused to return the seized property in order to "harass, intimidate and otherwise coerce Ms. Wall and to retaliate against (the plaintiff) for her associational and familial relationship," according to the suit.