Matthew King owned a pair of white Nike sneakers that were about a size 12. Those shoes brought him a world of trouble.
A lawsuit filed by King against former Tombstone Marshal Bob Randall and a handful of investigators at the law enforcement agency in 2020 claims that King was arrested and booked into the Cochise County Jail for 28 hours as a burglary suspect.
The main evidence against King was a pair of white Nike sneakers, the complaint shows, and shoe prints at the scene of the crime.
The burglary occurred on Jan. 26, 2019, at a house on Ridge Place and Gleeson Road, were shoe prints leading to and from the burgled residence ended about 350 feet from the house where King lived with his family, the complaint shows. Tombstone detectives believed the shoe prints were made by Nike sneakers that were between size 12 and 13.
A day after the burglary, an anonymous tipster called the Tombstone Marshal’s Office and told investigators King had white Nike sneakers that were in that size range.
Tombstone Sgt. Travis Mattern — who left the agency in 2021 under negative circumstances — stated he was familiar with King and King associated with people who were thieves, the complaint shows. Mattern and Tombstone Deputy Marshal Robert Valenzuela then showed a picture of Nike sneakers to the informant and the person said that the shoes were identical to those owned by King.
The investigators obtained a search warrant for King’s house, and they seized some pot and a few other items, but neither investigator mentioned anything about Nike sneakers, the complaint says.
King was arrested and spent 28 hours in the Cochise County Jail, the complaint says. Another suspect was arrested shortly thereafter.
“The arrest was based on unfounded suspicion arising from a similarity in shoe brands and sizes, on King’s association with known burglars, and the word of an anonymous person who said that King wore Nike shoes that were 12 to 12.5 in size,” the complaint says.
King claims Tombstone investigators lacked substantial evidence for the arrest and that it was based solely on “suspicions and assumptions.”
The counts listed in the complaint include: False imprisonment, battery, assault, aiding and abetting tortious conduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress, Tombstone respondent superior, and negligent failure to train and supervise employees.
King and his attorney, Joel P. Borowiec, are requesting a trial by jury in Cochise County Superior Judge Jason Lindstrom’s courtroom.
At a brief hearing Wednesday, Borowiec and Andrew Petersen, the lawyer representing the Tombstone lawmen, said they would confer and get back to Lindstrom with a possible trial date.
Mattern left the Tombstone Marshal’s Office last year after a six-page internal investigation of the former sergeant released to the Herald/Review showed a pattern of disturbing behavior by Mattern that included his obsession with a woman who worked at a popular Tombstone bar.