Fired D.C. firefighter to get $390K from Fairfax County over wrongful arrest

Elon Wilson spent 21 months in prison after his arrest by former Fairfax County Officer Jonathan A. Freitag


By Janelle Foskett

WASHINGTON — A former D.C. Fire and EMS firefighter will receive nearly $390,000 from Fairfax County, Virginia, to settle a lawsuit alleging a wrongful arrest that resulted in his 21-month imprisonment.

Elon Wilson filed a federal lawsuit in July, three months after a judge vacated his convictions and ordered him freed. The judgment followed an internal investigation into Jonathan A. Freitag, the Fairfax County officer who arrested Wilson, The Washington Post reported.

The lawsuit stemmed from an April 2018 incident in which Freitag pulled over Wilson, ostensibly for crossing a yellow line on the road, failing to pull over when signaled and having illegally tinted windows, according to court records. Freitag arrested Wilson after finding oxycodone and handguns in the car. Wilson said they were not his.

Wilson was subsequently fired from D.C. Fire and EMS.

In July 2019, Wilson was sentenced to a little over three years in prison.

Around the same time, Fairfax internal affairs investigators began reviewing Freitag’s traffic stops. Freitag ultimately admitted that he had made “pretextual” traffic stops, using a false reason to pull over a vehicle. In February 2020, Wilson’s lawyer, Marvin D. Miller, filed a motion seeking information about the internal affairs investigation.

 

The Washington Post reported that, in April 2021, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Daniel E. Ortiz vacated Wilson’s convictions and ordered him freed, saying “Freitag’s fabricated grounds for the stop, police report, and warrant made under oath fundamentally tampered with the judicial machinery and subverted the integrity of the court itself.”

Following Wilson’s release, Miller and civil rights lawyer Victor M. Glasberg filed a federal suit against Fairfax on Wilson’s behalf. Fairfax began settlement negotiations and, on Oct. 7, agreed to pay Wilson $390,000.

Freitag had defended his actions in multiple interviews.

Read more about the case on The Washington Post.

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