(FRESNO COUNTY, Calif.) -- Ivan Hurd, a former Hanford police officer, was the victim of a Fresno County reserve deputy sheriff whose racial prejudice led to false criminal charges against Hurd in a livestock deal that turned sour, his lawyer said on Nov. 28.
Hurd filed suit four years ago against reserve deputy Bill Richardson and others in connection with the December 1995 arrest in which he was charged with grand theft.
The charges ultimately were dismissed.
Lawyer Kevin G. Little, who is representing Hurd in his civil action, said Richardson's "dislike for Mr. Hurd's race" led to the charges against Hurd, who is African-American.
Hurd, who trains cutting horses and was one of the first mounted police officers in Hanford, alleged that his arrest by deputies constituted false arrest and malicious prosecution.
James J. Arendt, a lawyer representing Richardson and the Fresno County Sheriff's Department, said the issue in the case is whether there was probable cause to arrest Hurd at the time, not Richardson's personal prejudice.
Arendt told the six-woman, two-man civil jury that there will be evidence that Richardson "used the 'N' word -- I don't even like using it. ..."
"It's an ugly word, but it doesn't mean his investigation of the plaintiff [Hurd] wasn't justified," Arendt said.
Little said Richardson not only was prejudiced against Hurd, he also attempted to influence witnesses and tamper with testimony.
Arendt said Richardson's investigation was backed by his supervisors and the ultimate decision to prosecute was left to the District Attorney's Office.
"It went through a lot of checks and balances," Arendt said.
The criminal case against Hurd went to a preliminary hearing, and a judge ruled he should face trial, but the DA's Office later dropped all criminal charges.
Hurd, a resident of Riverdale, was arrested after Cameron Holman of Sanger accused him of the theft of three Hereford cows and a Brahma bull.
Hurd's civil-rights lawsuit said he and Holman had agreed to a transaction in which Hurd would trade a $3,500 cutting horse for the three cows and bull, plus $1,050 in cash from Holman.
Later, after Holman left the livestock with Hurd, he reported them stolen and called sheriff's deputies to retrieve them.
Although Hurd had turned himself in after he learned there was a warrant for his arrest, deputies still came to his home and kicked open his bedroom door and called him out at gunpoint, Little said.
The suit also names sheriff's Capt. Don Burk, who was Richardson's supervisor at the time.
The trial before U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger is expected to last two weeks.
Jerry Bier The Fresno Bee November 29, 2000, Wednesday Final Edition Copyright 2000 McClatchy Newspapers, Inc. The Fresno Bee November 29, 2000, Wednesday Final Edition Terms And Conditions Copyright(C) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.