- Associated Press - Monday, January 20, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The city of Altoona, a police investigator and a video expert have agreed to a settlement with a man acquitted of murder in the 2005 death of a woman who was struck by a truck.

Justin Pollard filed the lawsuit in 2011 in federal court in Des Moines, alleging malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, negligence and violations of his constitutional rights.

Pollard was twice charged with murder for allegedly striking 46-year-old Annamarie Rittman, of Altoona, with his pickup in the parking lot of the Altoona Lowe’s Home Improvement store at 5:20 a.m. on Dec. 27, 2005.

The first case was dismissed by a judge when key evidence was thrown out. In the second, a jury found Pollard not guilty.

The document filed Friday by the attorney representing the city and other defendants said a settlement has been reached. It said the defendants anticipate Pollard filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit once he receives the settlement agreement and signs off on it.

The documents do not offer any details of the settlement.

Pollard’s attorney, Theodore Sporer, confirmed a settlement but said details are confidential until the city files court settlement documents. Such documents typically spell out the terms of the settlement and may outline the amount of money the city will pay to settle the case.

Pollard and his wife filed for bankruptcy as he was preparing to take the lawsuit to trial.

“The criminal prosecution was financially devastating to them,” Sporer said, and the resolution of the civil case allows them to move on.

“The Pollards have left the area and are getting on with life,” he said.

Altoona Mayor Skip Conkling said the police chief informed him last week that the case was in the process of being settled. He said he’s happy the case will be resolved but that he couldn’t comment further.

Des Moines attorney Jason Palmer, who represents the city and other defendants, did not respond to phone and email messages left Monday.

The first time Pollard was charged in 2006, the case was led by Altoona police investigator Jason Ferguson, who is named in the lawsuit. The charge was dismissed when a judge threw out videotape evidence that authorities said showed Pollard’s truck in the parking lot around the time Rittman was hit. The video, prepared by producer Joe Brother at the request of Ferguson, did not show Rittman being struck but was used by police and prosecutors to attempt to show Pollard’s pickup in the area at the time of the hit-and-run.

The judge determined Brother had sped up the video, making it appear the truck was moving faster than it was and would have struck Rittman harder than it did. Brother and his production company are also named in the lawsuit.

Ferguson continued his investigation with the help of other officers and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. He obtained a new version of the video compiled by the FBI Digital Evidence Lab showing the truck traveling at normal speed.

Another arrest warrant was issued for Pollard on Oct. 2, 2009, when he was in Iraq as an active U.S. Army reserve soldier. He was arrested after he returned the U.S. on Oct. 6, 2009. A jury found him not guilty at a trial the next year.

The city contends both cases were based on sufficient probable cause, determinations upheld by three district court judges.



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