Lawsuit by former I-10 shootings suspect will move forward

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Leslie Merritt Jr., pictured here after an unrelated arrest in October 2016,  was arrested and charged in connection with the freeway shootings, but those charges were later dropped. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Leslie Merritt Jr., pictured here after an unrelated arrest in October 2016, was arrested and charged in connection with the freeway shootings, but those charges were later dropped. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was arrested on Sept. 18, 2015. He has said repeatedly that he was not involved in the freeway shootings. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was arrested on Sept. 18, 2015. He has said repeatedly that he was not involved in the freeway shootings. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Merritt's attorney, Jason Lamm, tweeted out the first page of that lawsuit on Sept. 14, 2016. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Merritt's attorney, Jason Lamm, tweeted out the first page of that lawsuit on Sept. 14, 2016. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Leslie Merritt Jr. seen talking to reporters after he was released from jail last week. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Leslie Merritt Jr. seen talking to reporters after he was released from jail last week. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A judge on Friday issued a ruling that allows the former suspect in the Phoenix Interstate 10 freeway shootings to move forward with suing the state.

Leslie Merritt Jr. filed a $10 million civil lawsuit against the state of Arizona in September.

In response, the state filed a motion to dismiss the suit, which also names county officials as defendants.

Judge David D. Gass denied that motion, which means Merritt's case can move forward.

Merritt’s attorney, Jason Lamm, sent us the court paperwork early Friday morning.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Phoenix freeway shootings]

Merritt was accused of four of the 11 freeway shootings that terrorized the Valley in fall 2015.  

He was charged with 15 counts, including endangerment, drive-by shooting, unlawful discharge of a firearm, aggravated assault, and disorderly conduct in connection with freeway shootings.

All charges against Merritt were dismissed without prejudice in April 2016.

"His arrest was the culmination of a botched investigation, a wrongful arrest and a malicious prosecution," Lamm said the day he filed Merritt's civil lawsuit. "As we stand here today, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Leslie Merritt is the I-10 shooter, that he ever has been or that he ever will be. Phoenix is absolutely no safer than it was at the time of Leslie Merritt's arrest."

PDF: Jan. 6, 2017 ruling by Judge David D. Gass

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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