College Sports

Idaho State football player wrongly arrested in bank robbery reaches partial settlement

Two Idaho State University football players, Nehemiah McFarlin, left, and Atoatasi Fox, right, are suing Idaho and Utah law enforcement agencies claiming they were illegally detained, arrested and then spent more than 24 hours in police custody after being accused of robbing an Idaho bank.
Two Idaho State University football players, Nehemiah McFarlin, left, and Atoatasi Fox, right, are suing Idaho and Utah law enforcement agencies claiming they were illegally detained, arrested and then spent more than 24 hours in police custody after being accused of robbing an Idaho bank. Courtesy of Idaho State University's football roster

One of two Idaho State football players suing a pair of counties in Idaho and Utah for illegal detainment and arrest in December 2016 has reached a partial settlement.

According to the Ogden, Utah, Standard-Examiner, Atoatasi Fox reached a settlement “of nuisance value only” with Idaho’s Oneida County. Fox and teammate Nehemiah McFarlin were arrested in Utah’s Box Elder County after a resident there called dispatch and linked McFarlin’s vehicle to the description of one involved in a bank robbery in Malad, according to the complaint.

A bulletin put out earlier that day by the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office described a white passenger car with no license plate and three missing hubcaps being driven by a black male. McFarlin and Fox, who are both African American, were arrested and booked in Box Elder. All police reports indicated at the time was that they were also driving a white car. They were released the following night.

Another man was arrested on suspicion of the robbery three weeks later, the Standard-Examiner reported.

“Other than being black, neither McFarlin nor Fox matched the description of the robbery participant,” according to a complaint filed on Dec. 5, 2018, in federal court in Utah.

Additional parts of the suit remain active, according to the Standard-Examiner.

McFarlin is still on Idaho State’s roster.

Lawyers for Box Elder County and Oneida County have responded to the suit by saying “it was an unfortunate case of mistaken identity and the officers involved acted in good faith,” the Standard-Examiner reported.

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