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Louisville Police Accused Of Failing To Test 10-Year-Old Rape Kit In Lawsuit

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ONA News Agency/Wikimedia Commons
The Indiana Supreme Court is considering a sentence appeal for a man convicted in 2020 of killing and mutilating his ex-girlfriend at her Jeffersonville home.

Salisa Luster Harrison told police that she lay in her apartment for two days, beaten, bruised and unconscious, after being raped in 2008.

In the days and weeks that followed, Harrison expected her rapist to be brought to justice. Ten years later, she’s still waiting.

Today, Harrison, who agreed to be publicly identified, and her lawyers filed a lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department and several of the officers involved in the case. The lawsuit claims LMPD lied to Harrison two times about the status of her rape kit. LMPD allegedly told Harrison twice that her kit had been tested, and that the results were inconclusive. Her lawyers said police documents show the kit was never tested.

Mike Laux, one of Harrison’s attorneys, said Harrison’s case is one of the worst instances of police misconduct he has seen.

“In my approximate 15 years of practicing law with a focus on civil rights, I have rarely seen a more egregious example of police misconduct, investigatory malfeasance and just misrepresentations and lies,” Laux said.

LMPD officials declined to comment on the suit, citing department policy on pending litigation.

Laux said in addition to the violation of her first and 14th Amendment rights, the suit also includes an equal protection claim and a count of conspiracy. Laux said Harrison and her lawyers believe part of Harrison’s treatment stems from discrimination based on her race; Harrison is African-American.

Laux said the count of conspiracy was included because of the “institutional lies [and] institutional misrepresentations all designed to shut Ms. Luster and her mother out of this case.” Harrison's mother, Cheryl Ellis, has been actively involved in trying to solve her daughter's case.

Ben Crump, another of Harrison’s attorneys, said his client has not been able to identify her rapist.

“Unfortunately, she can’t identify who did this to her. We know that DNA can identify this criminal who has eluded justice for over a decade," Crump said. "The time for justice has come now."

More than 10 individuals in addition to LMPD are named as defendants in the lawsuit, according to a copy of the complaint. The defendants include officers who worked on Harrison’s case. Laux said several John Does were also listed in the complaint to allow for more defendants to be named as the investigation unfolds.