TODAY   |  September 10, 2013

Tennis ref suing LAPD for wrongful murder arrest

Tennis referee Lois Goodman was arrested on charges of murdering her elderly husband by beating him with a coffee cup. The charges were dropped, but the Los Angeles native is now suing police for wrongful arrest. NBC’s Mike Taibbi reports.

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>> take a turn to today's cover story . there's new fall out over the headline making arrest of a tennis umpire . lois goodman was taken into custody before the u.s. open last year for allegedly killing her husband. the charges are dropped and she is suing for wrongful arrest. we'll talk to her exclusively in a moment but first, here's the back story.

>> reporter: the so-called walk was one thing before the cameras on the eve of last summer's open.

>> fellow goes on network news announcing to the world that she is guilty, that's just -- it's foul play.

>> but in her lawsuit against the l.a. police department and other officials for false arrest and malicious prosecution , goodman said she was targeted for the start for what became known as the coffee cup murder without any credible evidence. she says the police became fix sated on her lack of emotional display over the death of her husband allen repeating her make up was not running. the coroner said it was a homicide.

>> he died as a result of blunt sharp objects.

>> after her arrest she spent two nights in jail before more detention back home in l.a. followed by months under house arrest . then last november.

>> the case is dismissed.

>> reporter: prosecutors dropped the case against goodman . unable to proceed because of insufficient evidence. despite that, mrs. goodman suffers on a daily basis. the public humiliation is never ending.

>> police are every jurisdiction have some form of limited or qualified immunity . that as long as a police officer is acting reasonably he is allowed to be wrong.

>> goodman 's attorneys say the police and others did not act reasonably in her case.

>> they felt that because this widow did not cry on the spot and break down sobbing that somehow she could be guilty of a crime.

>> exoneration was the big step goodman says, but not the final step to full recovery. for today, nbc news, los angeles .

>>> lois goodman is with us this morning along with her attorney. good morning to both of you.

>> before i get to your lawsuit. what a difference a year makes. last time at the u.s. open last year you were making headlines for all the wrong reasons. you were charged with the murder of your husband and now you're back in the referee's chair. what was it like?

>> well, it's, you know -- i love my job and i was so thrilled to be invited back to work. it meant everything to me.

>> any whispers? did you get a good reaction from your fellow referees or players? or did you hear whispers?

>> i have been working right along from the beginning of the year doing college and junior and senior stuff. but, you know, it's different. it's different.

>> they treat you differently.

>> yeah.

>> the legal side of this, you're suing a los angeles police department . false arrest is the reason you're suing and emotional distress and malicious prosecution . you say you continue to suffer public humiliation .

>> explain it to me.

>> they just, you know, they say things behind my back, you know, i'm not getting the jobs that i used to get.

>> you just told me you continue to work.

>> i do.

>> but not on a daily basis. everywhere she goes people look at her and they jeer. her life has been forever changed as a result of this.

>> as we just heard, though, police department 's generally have limited immunity here and leeway. i mean, we had ayman who was dead. blunt force trauma the cause. we had a wife that they said didn't show the proper emotion and we always know that the spouse is one of the first people you look at. did they act improperly?

>> but this was not reasonable. they literally ignored all evidence of her innocence. they investigated her for three months. they interviewed all of her friends. they voluntarily went for every interview. she told them she was coming to new york. the los angeles police department flew to new york so they could arrest her here publicly and humiliate her.

>> why? why you? why do you think they did this to you?

>> i think the detective had an agenda and i think that he saw an opportunity to get in the news and so i think that's one of the reasons.

>> and you were certainly someone who would make headlines based on your position. we'll follow this lawsuit lois . we appreciate you coming back.

>> my pleasure.

>> allison, thank you as well.