George Anthony Bleus said his clients Crusoe Gongbay, Ryan Ruff and SaQwan Edwards were the victims of a “botched” investigation by UNM and its police department, and that the investigation caused a “hindrance to their life.” The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages.
“UNM and UNMPD turned a knowing blind eye to readily available evidence that would exculpate the African American plaintiffs,” the lawsuit says. “UNM and UNMPD’s actions were willful, knowing, targeted and conducted with malice and with discriminatory intent.”
The men were charged with raping UNM student Courtney Spencer in 2014, but prosecutors didn’t move forward with the case, citing insufficient evidence. The three have consistently denied the allegations. Bleus announced the 47-page lawsuit late Thursday afternoon, though it had been filed in state District Court earlier this month.
Bleus said his lawsuit will reveal that UNMPD failed to conduct a thorough investigation, and that they failed to consider evidence such as security footage or let witnesses disappear who would have proven his clients’ innocence much earlier.
“It’s not what I am trying to prove, it’s what the evidence will flush out,” he said.
Bleus said in December 2014 he planned to file a lawsuit against the university. He said he waited to file the suit at the request of Ruff, who wanted to avoid a lawsuit and hoped to return to his normal life. But, Bleus said, in the two years since things changed and his clients “couldn’t return to their normal life as they knew it.”
UNM spokeswoman Dianne Anderson said the university couldn’t comment directly on the lawsuit as they had not yet seen it.
“It is unfair and outrageous for Mr. Bleus to release the allegations of a lawsuit that he has not served on the university to media at the close of a business day,” she said in a statement. “While we have had no opportunity to review his clients’ claims, we stand by our police department, and we are confident that our procedures were fair to the parties involved in the case.”
Spencer has also filed a lawsuit against the university for failing to conduct a proper investigation of her alleged sexual assault. That case is pending.