United States District Court, D. Columbia
KIM CRAFTON, Plaintiff: Afshin Pishevar, PISHEVAR &
ASSOCIATES, P.C., Rockville, MD.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, JAMES TRAINUM, In His Official and
Individual Capacity, Defendants: Stephanie Litos, LEAD
ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.
Mehta, United States District Judge.
even conceded wrongs cannot be addressed by the judicial
process. This is such a case. In February 1994, Plaintiff Kim
Crafton was detained for ten months on the charge of felony
murder, a crime which she did not commit. According to
Plaintiff, she was arrested and charged because Defendant
James Trainum, at the time a detective with the District of
Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, obtained a false
confession from her using coercive interrogation tactics. He
also suppressed and disregarded evidence demonstrating her
innocence. The charges against Plaintiff ultimately were
dismissed without prejudice.
forward 20 years to August 2013. Defendant Trainum had become
a lecturer and teacher on police interrogation tactics and
regularly discussed Plaintiff's case in his
presentations. He admitted on a radio program that he had
coerced Plaintiff's confession and had disregarded
evidence that exculpated her. Upon learning of Trainum's
" confession," Plaintiff filed this suit on
September 3, 2014, against Trainum and the District of
Columbia, asserting claims under Section 1983, as well as
common law claims of intentional infliction of emotional
distress and malicious prosecution.
have moved to dismiss all claims on the ground that they are
barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiff counters that
her claims are timely because she did not "
discover" her claims until Trainum's public
acknowledgement of his wrongful acts. Notwithstanding that
the serious wrongs Plaintiff alleges will go unredressed, the
court agrees with Defendants that her claims are barred by
the statute of limitations. The court therefore grants
Defendants' motion and dismisses Plaintiff's
Complaint and this action in its entirety.
Facts Alleged in the Complaint
Plaintiff's Wrongful Arrest and Detention
1994, Plaintiff Kim Crafton was living in a homeless shelter
in the District of
Columbia. Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶ 5. At that time,
Defendant James Trainum was a detective with the District of
Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (" MPD" ),
who " was investigating the brutal abduction, robbery,
and murder of Lawrence O'Connell[,] whose body was found
bound and beaten on the banks of the Anacostia River."
Id. ¶ 8. Trainum detained Plaintiff based on a
tip that she matched a " grainy photograph from an ATM
used by the murderer(s) and a composite sketch based on a
description by a clerk in a liquor store where the credit
card [taken from O'Connell] was used." Id.
¶ 9. Trainum proceeded to conduct a " lengthy,
grueling" 17-hour videotaped interrogation of Plaintiff
during which he used " flawed techniques of
interrogation," including sleep deprivation, that "
he had been taught by the Metropolitan Police Department,
known as 'Reid training.'" Id. ¶
¶ 9, 12, 14-15. Plaintiff made several incriminating
statements during the interrogation and, in the end,
confessed to robbing and murdering O'Connell.
Id. ¶ 16. According to Plaintiff, "
Trainum obtained these false, incriminating statements
through coercive and unconstitutional tactics, including
improper psychological intimidation and pressure and unduly
oppressive conditions of confinement such that the resulting
statements and confession were neither true nor the product
of Plaintiff's free will." Id. ¶ 17.
Plaintiff thereafter was arrested, charged with felony
murder, and detained pending her trial. Id. ¶
21. Several weeks later, she recanted her confession but the
charges remained pending. Id. ¶ 22.
to Plaintiff, Trainum's wrongful conduct persisted after
he coerced her to confess. Trainum " affirmatively
endeavored to stretch and manipulate the facts and the
evidence to fit the false hypothesis that she was guilty of
the crime." Id. ¶ 13. Specifically,
Plaintiff alleges that Trainum disregarded and failed to
disclose evidence that clearly demonstrated her innocence.
Id. ¶ ¶ 18, 20. For instance, after her
recantation, Trainum reviewed the log books at the homeless
shelter where Plaintiff had been living and determined that
she could not have been at the scene of the murder when the
crime occurred. Id. ¶ 23. Secret Service and
FBI handwriting experts concluded that the shelter log books
bearing Plaintiff's signature matched her handwriting.
Id. ¶ 24. They also determined that the
handwriting on the credit card receipts signed by
O'Connell's assailant " unequivocally was
not that of Plaintiff." Id. This
evidence was not turned over to Plaintiff's counsel.
Id. ¶ 25. Trainum also disregarded other
evidence pointing to Plaintiff's innocence. He ignored
contradictory statements made during Plaintiff's
interrogation, id. ¶ 18, and disregarded
Plaintiff's statement that she was seven months pregnant
when O'Connell's murder occurred, even though he knew
the suspect " in the ATM photo was clearly not
Plaintiff spent ten months in jail awaiting trial, the
charges against her were dismissed without prejudice for
insufficient evidence. Id. ¶ 26.
Trainum's " Confession"
alleges that she first learned of Trainum's wrongdoing
nearly twenty years later. On August 31, 2013, she received a
letter from producers of the radio program " This
American Life," who informed her that Trainum was
teaching and lecturing on police interrogation tactics and
discussing Plaintiff's case in his presentations.
Id. ¶ 28A. The show's producers asked to
speak with her about her case. Id. Plaintiff agreed,
and on September 12, 2013, they played for her an audio
recording of an interview during which Trainum "
admitted that he had coerced the confession of Plaintiff; had
ignored or disregarded exculpatory evidence in his charge
towards an arrest and conviction in [Plaintiff's] murder
case; and, that Plaintiff was, in fact, innocent."
Id. ¶ 28B. Plaintiff asserts that she "
had no notice that the false confession she gave in 1994 had
been coerced by Trainum's wrongful interrogation and
actions until hearing [his] recorded admissions."
Id. ¶ 29B.
on September 23, 2013, Plaintiff and Trainum participated in
a conference call arranged by the show. On the call, "
Trainum repeated his admissions that he had coerced the
confession of Plaintiff; had ignored or disregarded
exculpatory evidence in his charge towards an arrest and
conviction in the murder case; and, that Plaintiff ...