'Serial Street Shooter' case: Accused man sues Arizona, county

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Story highlights

  • Person dubbed the "Serial Street Shooter" committed a series of highway shootings in Arizona
  • Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was arrested in the case, charges dropped; his lawyers have sued the state and county

(CNN)Nearly a year ago, 21-year-old Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was arrested and accused in a string of highway shootings in Phoenix done by a person officials nicknamed the "Serial Street Shooter." The charges were later dropped. Merritt's lawyers say his arrest was a culmination of a botched investigation, a wrongful arrest and a malicious prosecution.

"As we stand here today, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Leslie Meritt is the I-10 shooter," attorney Jason Lamm told reporters Wednesday.
    The state of Arizona, Maricopa County and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery are named as defendants in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Maricopa County.
    The lawsuit claims the Department of Public Safety was under "intense pressure and media scrutiny to solve the I-10 freeway shooting case" and brought on detectives normally assigned to other departments to work on the case. As such, detectives working the investigation had not received any training in weapons-related offenses, gun identification, or ballistics, according to the lawsuit.
    "The Department of Public Safety and the county attorney's office perpetrated a public relations stunt to calm the public," Lamm said.
    Merritt's lawyers said the DPS manipulated evidence and tried to talk witnesses into creating a different timeline than what really took place.
    The Department of Public Safety said it doesn't comment on pending litigation.
    Lamm told reporters that Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey was purposely left out of the lawsuit. After Merritt's arrest he sent out a tweet saying "We got him!" in reference to Merritt. But his contribution to the overall case was minimal and "in hindsight had he been better informed he wouldn't have sent out that tweet," Lamm said.