Christopher Tapp, Who Spent Nearly 20 Years in Prison, Gets $11.7 Million Settlement After Wrongful Conviction
"No dollar amount could ever make up for the over 20 years of my life I spent in prison for crimes I did not commit," Christopher Tapp said in a statement. "However, the settlement will help me move forward with my life."
The Idaho Falls City Council has agreed to pay a man $11.7 million in a settlement after he spent nearly two decades in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Christopher Tapp was wrongfully convicted in 1997 for the rape and murder of 18-year-old Angie Dodge. He attempted to appeal the conviction on several occasions. The DNA found at the crime scene did not match his own, officials said.
Tapp was released from prison in 2017 and exonerated based on DNA evidence in 2019. The DNA authorities said was found at the scene of the crime matched 54-year-old Brian Leigh Dripps who was arrested and pleaded guilty to rape and first-degree murder in the death of Dodge. Dripps was sentenced to 20 years to life in 2021.
Even though his DNA didn't match and Tapp denied having any part in Dodge's death, Tapp confessed to Dodge's murder after more than 28 hours of interrogation over 23 days, according to Anne-Marie Green’s report on "48 Hours" in 2020. Tapp said his confession was a fabrication based on a scenario supplied to him by police that was then recorded on camera.
Tapp filed a lawsuit against the city of Idaho Falls and the Idaho Falls Police Department, according to a report by East Idaho News in October 2020. The city requested that the lawsuit be dismissed, but the case was settled on Thursday.
"No dollar amount could ever make up for the over 20 years of my life I spent in prison for crimes I did not commit," Tapp said in a statement, according to East Idaho News. "However, the settlement will help me move forward with my life."
According to a news release from Tapp's attorneys, Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, the settlement requires the city of Idaho Falls to consult with experts on proposing modifications to its interrogation procedures.
“Chris Tapp’s wrongful conviction never should have happened; DNA cleared him over 20 years ago,” said Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann of Neufeld, Scheck & Brustin. “We hope this settlement is a wake-up call to the many police departments still using the same practices of lying, deception, and coercion as Idaho Falls did — and that it still needs to reform — so that other innocents don’t suffer like Chris Tapp has.”
In a letter to Tapp and his mother, Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper apologized and vowed the city will review and revise its interrogation policies and procedures to prevent such instances as Tapp endured.
"Please accept this sincere apology to you and to your mother, Mrs. Tapp, for the city's role in your wrongful conviction and subsequent incarceration, as well the harm and damages that you and your family have endured over these many years," Casper wrote. "We at the city of Idaho Falls hope that the resolution of your civil case and this sincere expression of an apology help bring healing and closure to both Mrs. Tapp and to you."
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