BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Bakersfield man whose murder conviction was overturned by an appellate court last year has filed a claim against Kern County after he says he was subjected to false arrest, malicious prosecution and false imprisonment.

The claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — was filed last month by The Cochran Firm in Los Angeles on behalf of Troy Douglas Sanders, who was serving life without parole before the 5th District Court of Appeal overturned his convictions on murder, attempted murder and gun- and-gang-related charges. Appellate justices said Sanders is barred from being retried under the double jeopardy clause.

The claim says it was “plainly obvious” sheriff’s detectives “had a demonstrated propensity to create false police reports, investigative reports, fabricate evidence, improperly influence witness testimony, and generally engage, and assist in, the malicious prosecution of criminal suspects, such as claimant.” The county has 45 days from the date the claim is presented to either grant or reject it. It’s on the agenda for next week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Sanders was found guilty of shooting and killing Michael Dorrough and injuring Dorrough’s girlfriend, Alize Weber, outside the Mars Collective marijuana dispensary on Union Avenue early July 4, 2017. Dorrough was declared dead at the scene.

Sanders was arrested later that month and his cellphone seized. Examining his cellphone data, investigators determined the phone was in the general area of the shooting around the time it occurred. 

That general area, however, also included the location of Sanders’ home, defense counsel said.

Surveillance video captured the shooting, but the race of the shooter could not be determined, according to the appellate court ruling issued in March. The lead detective testified he believed the shooter was “a light-complected African-American male,” but a deputy who viewed the footage wrote in a report the gunman was white or Hispanic.

Sanders is Black.

“The evidence establishing (Sanders’) identity as the shooter was neither reasonable, credible, nor of solid value,” the appellate court wrote. “The circumstances do not reasonably justify the jury’s verdicts.”

Sanders spent roughly four years in custody before his release June 24.