Los Angeles to Pay $8 Million to Ruben Martinez, Jr., Imprisoned 12 Years for Robberies He Didn’t Commit

Settlement Is One of the Largest Per-Year of Wrongful Incarceration in Los Angeles History

(LOS ANGELES, CA) National civil rights law firm Neufeld Scheck Brustin Hoffmann & Freudenberger, LLP, with co-counsel Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Angela Berry and criminal defense and civil rights attorney Ian Wallach, today announced that Los Angeles has agreed to pay $8 million to their client Ruben Martinez and his wife Maria, in compensation for the 12 years Mr. Martinez spent behind bars for a series of robberies he did not commit. 

The extraordinary settlement—one of the largest per-year wrongful incarceration settlements ever paid by Los Angeles—recognizes not only the anguish Mr. Martinez and his family experienced throughout his wrongful imprisonment, but also the egregious police misconduct and missteps that came to light through discovery arising from the civil lawsuit.

“Ruben Martinez was exonerated due to the heroic efforts of his wife Maria and his own steadfast faith, but this civil case uncovered rampant misconduct by numerous officers and supervisors throughout this investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department,” said Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann, a partner Neufeld Scheck Brustin Hoffmann & Freudenberger, LLP. “We hope that this landmark settlement will help prevent the kind of police misconduct that led to this travesty of justice and will allow Ruben and Maria to move forward with their lives.”  Her law partner, Nick Brustin, added: “Despite the overwhelming evidence of misconduct committed by LAPD officers throughout this investigation, the City of Los Angeles still maintained their officers and supervisors had done nothing wrong until just before trial, scheduled for September 2023, when the City agreed to pay $8 million to avoid facing a jury.”

In response to the settlement, Ruben Martinez, whose religious faith carried him through over a decade of wrongful incarceration, issued the following statement: “I want to thank my Lord Jesus Christ for exposing the truth to the light. The same work documents that would eventually exonerate me 12 years later are the same work documents that Los Angeles Police Department – Hollenbeck Division withheld from the Los Angeles County District Attorney. The misconduct didn’t stop there: Detective Eagleson pressured key witnesses to pick me out from a line up. After two trials and due to this and other false evidence, I was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 47 years and 8 months. Today, we can finally right this wrong.”

His wife Maria Martinez issued the following: “I first want to thank the Lord Jesus Christ for all that He has done for us. LAPD-Hollenbeck Division falsely charged my husband with nine counts of Armed Robbery, but LAPD robbed me and Ruben’s family of his presence daily for 12 years. The LAPD maliciously and knowingly sent my husband Ruben Martinez, who was always 100% innocent, to 47 years and 8 months in prison. It was our faith that helped us endure the 12 years until he was exonerated in November 2019, and our Faith in Jesus Christ continues to sustain us.”

As uncovered in the lawsuit, Mr. Martinez’s wrongful conviction was caused by LAPD officers’ egregious investigative misconduct. Defendant officers used highly improper suggestion to obtain false identifications of the innocent Mr. Martinez from witnesses, buried evidence of other eyewitnesses who did not identify Mr. Martinez as the robber, and ignored obvious evidence of Mr. Martinez’s innocence—including documentation proving his alibi during two of the robberies. Shortly after Mr. Martinez was wrongly convicted, Defendant Officer Anthony Razo pled guilty to felony insurance fraud after having first falsely accused two other innocent Latino men of having committed his crimes.

Ruben and Maria Martinez’s legal team includes NSBHF partners Nick Brustin and Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann and attorneys Katie McCarthy, Christina Matthias, and Gerardo Romo, as well as co-counsel Angela Berry and Ian Wallach.

The case is Martinez v. City of Los Angeles, Anthony Razo, Salvador Lizarraga, William Eagleson, Gilbert Silva, Jesus Linn and Marilyn Droz, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Western California, Case No. CV 2:20-10559 (FWS) (KSx).

A copy of Martinez’s complaint is here.

Read the Associated Press’s coverage here.

< Back to News