Man files federal lawsuit against fired Savannah Police officer, City of Savannah

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 5:56 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2023 at 6:09 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A former Savannah Police detective was fired earlier this year accused of falsifying evidence in a 2021 murder case.

Now, the man she put behind bars for nearly two years is suing her and the City of Savannah.

Marquis Parrish is suing Ashley Wood and the City of Savannah in federal court saying his constitutional rights were violated.

For the first time, Savannah leaders are reacting to a federal lawsuit from Marquis Parrish that claims he was wrongfully put behind bars and is now seeking damages from among other things, a loss of income, pain, and suffering.

WTOC asked Mayor Van Johnson about the suit during his weekly news conference.

When asked, “did the city violate Parrish’s rights?

Mayor Van Johnson said, “this is a legal matter, so it’s within the courts. The trial facts will determine that.”

Parrish was charged with murdering Charles Vinson in 2021.

His charges were dropped nearly two years later after lead detective Ashley Wood was accused of making up evidence in the case.

Parrish says “Defendant Wood withheld the Walmart video which did not show Plaintiff Parrish participating in the purchase of cleaning supplies used in connection with the murder of Mr. Vinson. Suppression of said video dramatically mischaracterized Ms. Wood’s account of events and concealed the fact that there was no evidence linking Plaintiff Parrish to Mr. Vinson’s murder.”

In the lawsuit, Parrish claims “SPD had a policy, practice, procedure and/or custom which permitted employees to alter material exculpatory evidence and/or suppress it from being turned over to criminal defendants and their counsel.”

Thursday, Mayor Johnson defended SPD training practices.

" We train people right, so ultimately people have to follow their training. Each officer is trained properly, trained the right way and officers have to rely on their training. His claims are his claims and those issues will have to be decided in court,” said Mayor Johnson.

The lawsuit says that every count of Parrish’s indictment was based solely on Wood’s testimony and Parrish along with his five children were forced into homelessness as a result of his arrest.

A department spokesperson for Savannah Police says they do not comment on ongoing legal matters.