Jan 24, 2001 at 12:00 am

He says that he was falsely arrested and held in a Detroit jail cell for more than two days at police headquarters. He says that he was told, you “don’t have any rights,” when he asked to call his attorney and family. And he says that the jail cell in which he was detained was sweltering and infested with roaches.

This is the story of a 67-year-old retired autoworker who received a $225,000 legal settlement earlier this month from the City of Detroit.

Attorney David Zacks, whose law firm Lewis and Munday defended the city in the case, admits that the man — who asked that we not report his name for fear that he and his wife will be harassed for his settlement money — was falsely arrested in 1997.

“There is no question that a mistake was made and he should not have been detained,” said Zacks. “I have to tell you, as unfortunate as that is, given the number of arrests in a city of this size, that’s going to happen.”

Zacks also warned News Hits not to do “a hatchet job” on this story.

We’ll do our best. Here’s what happened, according to Mr. Anonymous, Zacks and Detroit Fire Department Lt. Al Hood, who was involved in the arson case:

Mr. Anonymous said that in 1997 Hood called him at home and said there was an arrest warrant for him and his son, and that they should turn themselves in to the downtown fire station, which they did. Hood says that he called the father and told him to tell his son that he had a warrant for his son’s arrest. Hood says that he would not have told the father there was a warrant for his arrest because the Wayne County prosecutor had denied Hood’s request for one.

Hood was not present when the son and father arrived at the fire station and two police officers arrested them. The son, who eventually was put on probation for conspiring to steal and torch his father’s van, was released on bond the day of the arrest. Mr. Anonymous, however, was locked in a cell for at least two and a half days.

Although Zacks admits that the city made “a mistake,” exactly who made it may never be revealed. Loath as it is to appear to be sharpening up its ax, News Hits has to observe that the city seems less than eager to discover exactly how this occurred and who’s responsible.

Zacks would like us to be content knowing that the number of people falsely arrested in Detroit is “very minute.”

City Council President Pro Tem Maryann Mahaffey thinks otherwise.

“It just seems to me that it has to be investigated in terms of how did it happen, where is the supervision that would have caught it and … what is to prevent this from happening again,” she says.

Mahaffey, who wrote a letter to Police Chief Benny Napoleon and Executive Fire Commissioner Charles Wilson about this incident Jan. 9, has not yet received a response.

Maybe they think it’s best to keep those responsible for Mr. Anonymous’ plight anonymous.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]