Member sues police, alleging wrongful arrest

By Mac Overton

TYLER, Texas--A printer employed by the Church of God International, headquartered near here, has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Tyler, a former Tyler police chief and several other policemen over his arrest on a murder charge in November 1998. He filed the suit in federal district court in Lufkin, Texas.

Kenneth Brent Barton of Frankston, Texas, said his arrest and incarceration in connection with the decades-old murder case was "much more than an innocent mistake" by the Tyler police. He told The Journal his experience has been a "nightmare" that isn't over yet.

Mr. Barton, 47, and his brother, Clifton Barton of Plano, Texas, 44, were arrested Nov. 11, 1998, and charged with capital murder in connection with the 1974 robbery and killing of Louis Carlat, a 61-year-old retired police officer and businessman, at Mr. Carlat's Tyler residence Dec. 22, 1974.

Mr. Barton seeks an unspecified amount for compensatory and punitive damages for wrongful arrest, loss of liberty, emotional distress, mental anguish, pain and suffering, disfigurement, lost earnings, medical and psychological care and damage to his reputation.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the former Tyler police chief, Bill Young, along with four other officers. The suit alleges those named conspired to violate Mr. Barton's constitutional and civil rights.

The Barton brothers were charged because of statements made in an affidavit to police by Kenneth's former girl friend, who claimed he had told her he had killed a policeman.

The woman made the accusation in 1992, but police said they couldn't act on it until she finished a course of treatment for mental illness.

Mr. Carlat was stabbed to death during a botched robbery at his home in which guns and jewelry were taken. Tyler police later said guns seized during the arrests did not match any of the guns taken from the Carlat residence.

In the lawsuit Mr. Barton contends that "any prudent, appropriate or meaningful effort to investigate this tragic capital murder would have resulted in defendants learning that plaintiff was not the person involved in this crime for which he was wrongfully, illegally and falsely arrested and jailed."

The suit also says he will show "that some of the defendants actually knew, or had substantial evidence indicating, that plaintiff was not the person involved in the capital murder."

Mr. Barton has been a member of the Church of God International since 1991 and a CGI employee since 1993.

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