[UPDATE] 'Mr. Florida' vs. City of Tallahassee Suit Settled

UPDATED 7.23.2012 by Julie Montanaro

The City of Tallahassee and the family of A.J. Graham reached a settlement just days before the civil trial was scheduled to begin.

Steve Carter, who represented the City of Tallahassee in the lawsuit, said it was settled for $40,000.

The trial was slated to begin in federal court in Panama City this week. Court records show the settlement was filed on July 17th.

Graham sued the city, claiming there was no probable cause for his arrest in May 2009 on armed robbery charges. The state attorney's office later dismissed the charges against Graham.

The city has argued all along that there was probable cause and would have argued the same in court, Carter said.

We are trying to reach the attorney representing A.J. Graham for comment.

UPDATED May 11, 2011 Press Release

Tallahassee, FL - Former Godby High School football star and All-State quarterback A.J. Graham, Jr., who won the 2009 “Mr. Florida Football Award,” filed a civil rights suit today against the City of Tallahassee Police Department for his wrongful arrest for a robbery on May 26, 2009. The charges were proven to untrue and later dismissed.

The suit identifies TPD officers who misled judges about the evidence against Graham. The TPD officers submitted an affidavit and search warrant application which falsely claimed that Graham had been “positively identified” as the robber, when in fact the robber's face was covered with a bandanna. That information was also intentionally left out of a news release sent out by the TPD Public Information office.

Because the affidavit claimed that Graham had been “positively identified,” he was held in the Leon County jail without bond for more than two weeks. While he was in jail, his football scholarship to Marshall University was revoked. On August 4, 2009, prosecutors dropped all charges against Graham.

At the time of his arrest, Graham and his family were at home dressing in preparation for his high school graduation that evening, and were about to leave for the ceremony when TPD officers, dressed in SWAT gear and brandishing rifles and weapons drawn, entered his grandmother‟s home, threw Graham up against a wall outside, and handcuffed him in the presence of his entire family, including children.

Graham‟s mother, Angela Graham, says A.J. and his family still feel the trauma of that night. She said, “The arrest was a nightmare. I asked God “is this really happening?”

“A.J. was a role model for so many other children. He worked so hard to be able to walk across that stage and get his high school diploma, and we were all so proud of him. Instead, he spent two weeks in jail. They can never give that back to him,” said Graham.

A.J. Graham is in his second year at Marshall University. He is planning to major in psychology.

The lawsuit was filed in Leon County Circuit Court.
UPDATE 8.6.09 7pm by Julie Montanaro

A star quarterback accused of armed robbery has been exonerated and will soon be on his way to Marshall University.

AJ Graham was arrested and released from a full scholarship back in May, but prosecutors dropped the charges Thursday saying all of Graham's alibis checked out.

The news came as a surprise to AJ Graham and his family. Earlier in the day, prosecutors dropped felony armed robbery charges against him, but he had no idea that Marshall University had reinstated his scholarship until his attorney announced it an afternoon press conference.

"First and foremost, I'd like to thank the man upstairs who made this whole thing possible for me and my family. I'm just feeling great today," Graham said.

Graham was arrested in May and accused of robbing a man at gunpoint outside a party on Constitution Circle. The victim picked Graham out of a lineup and described the getaway car as a gray impala similar to one belonging to Graham's grandmother. It turns out his grandmother had the car at work that night and had the time cards to prove it and alibis from Graham's friends checked out too.

"They were confident in their identification, however, based on the alibi witnesses, we were not going to be able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt," said prosecutor Jon Fuchs.

"Can you imagine the ecstasy ... he went from I'm graduating and going to play football to he's arrested in a jail cell with no bond?" Graham's attorney Tim Jansen said. "This isn't a technicality," Jansen said, "He should never have been arrested in the first place."

Graham's attorney accused TPD of rushing to judgment without fully investigating first, saying Graham missed his high school graduation and may have to red shirt his first year at Marshall because of it.

The chance to reclaim his scholarship and resume his football career brought Graham and many of his family and friends to tears.

"I'm the happiest mom in the world. I don't think my daughter is too excited because it means her brother is leaving, but I'm the happiest mom in the world," Angela Graham said.

A Tallahassee Police spokesman said investigators had lineups, interviews and other evidence that reached the threshold of
probable cause for Graham's arrest ... but says TPD respects the state attorney's sole discretion on how to prosecute cases.

Graham says he'll report to Marshall University by Sunday.

A.J. Graham's scholarship to Marshall University has been reinstated. He's supposed to report to start football practice on Sunday.
WCTV has learned that all charges against former Godby star quarterback, A.J. Graham have been dropped.

The state attorney's office says although the witness in the case says he's confident Graham is the one who robbed him, the state cannot prove it.

Graham was accused of holding up three men at gunpoint outside a party on May 22nd.

The state attorney's office says all of Graham's alibis checked out. The state says the car that was in question was in Graham's grandmother's driveway at the time of the robbery and her time card records prove it.

Graham was expected to start at quarterback for Marshall this football season, before they revoked his scholarship because of the charges. When Marshall pulled his scholarship, they said if he was cleared, they would reinstate it. Graham's attorney is now in talks with Marshall.

Graham, his family, and his attorney are scheduled to hold a press conference at 1:00 p.m. Thursday.

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  • by MsJP Location: Thomasville/Tally/FSU on Aug 12, 2009 at 08:44 AM
    Of course I know there are exceptions,thats why I always argue with what some people on here say.Some say "you blacks this" and "you blacks that" as if they're saying ALL black people do the same thing and thats not true.Maybe you acknowledge that there are exceptions, but some people on here really mean blacks as a whole.
  • by GV Location: Ga on Aug 12, 2009 at 04:33 AM
    Well if you're not dumb,you should know that there are exceptions in both races.Maybe instead of saying "black people this or black people that",I will start saying "most black people",which would then be correct.
  • by MsJP Location: Thomasville/Tally/FSU on Aug 11, 2009 at 01:45 PM
    You don't have to make anything easier I'm not dumb...apparently.You may be right somewhat but the fact the you generalize for an ENTIRE race makes it sound partially wrong.Every white person doesn't pay fines and check in and every black person doesn't not pay their fines or not check in.There are some who do and some who don't for each race.
  • by well said on Aug 11, 2009 at 01:20 PM
    To Posted by: Idiot on Aug 11, 2009 at 12:02 PM---- Well said, blacks are the minority but commit more than 50% of the crime---well said
  • by gus Location: tally on Aug 11, 2009 at 12:38 PM
    dont worry, he'll blow it looking for dope or something.
  • by GV Location: Ga on Aug 11, 2009 at 10:38 AM
    MsJP,maybe I should make it alittle easier for you to understand,whites commit crime,gets fine and probation.Pays fine,checks in with PO,gets off probation.Black man does the same crime,gets fine and probation,never pays a dime,never checks in,or gets another charge and is violated and put back in jail.That's why blacks seem to get more time for the same charges.Most blacks that are in jail originally received a fine and probation.
  • by Idiot on Aug 11, 2009 at 09:02 AM
    rhetorical= Please dont respond I cant really clarify or justify my comments with any rational explanation. Whites commit more of these type of crimes in "America", but not that much more, where as the crime of those sorts on the African continent where mostly non whites habitate are committed by,, you guessed it!! non whites, and over in China,, I guess whites dont get much embezzelment time there. Probably the Asians do, so it's not surprising to anyone that whites here would commit most of these crimes. The real truth is, when given the facts that black males only make up about 8% of the total population but are still committing over 50% of any of these crimes, yeah,, Houston we have a problem. That makes black males almost 20x's as criminally active. Maybe even more than that, my math sucks from all those years at public skool.
  • by MsJP Location: Thomasville/Tally/FSU on Aug 11, 2009 at 08:03 AM
    There you go putting words in my mouth again.I never said that.I said they should be in jail I didn't say anything about time.Any idiot knows that a person who committed armed robbery would get more time than a person who committed tax fraud.And my question was rhetorical bc I felt the comment I responded to was wrong.
  • by GV Location: Ga on Aug 11, 2009 at 04:46 AM
    MsJP,the reason alot of whites get less time is because the crime is not as severe.Do you really think that someone who defrauds some tax money should receive the same time as someone who kills someone in a home invasion or armed robbery?And don't ask a question if you don't want an answer.
  • by MsJP Location: Thomasville/Tally on Aug 10, 2009 at 02:28 PM
    GV why do you always respond when I say something?!I don't think if he was white it would've been any different and he didn't get off because he was black.I didn't ask for your opinionated statistics because that wasn't my point.I know there are more black men in jail...discussed that in sociology.And since you're into statistics did you know that blacks are more likely commit the crimes like robbery and theft that you see on the news alot.Whites on the other hand are more likely to commit white collar crimes like embezzlement and tax fraud.The consequences for white collar crime is usually a fine instead of jail,therefore some of the people who commit those crimes aren't in jail where they should be.Before you twist my words I'm not saying blacks don't commit white collar crime too,they're just less likely.Look it up since you like statistics.Maybe that will give you something better to do besides criticizing me.
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