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Spokane man sues Sheriff's Office after wrongful arrest, accusation of murder

Joey Riley was arrested in 2020 after a man was killed outside a Spokane Valley bar. He wasn't anywhere close to the crime scene.

SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane man is trying to restore his name and reputation after being accused of murder.

Joey Riley was arrested in January of 2020. At the time, detectives believed he beat a man to death outside a Spokane Valley bar. It turns out he wasn't anywhere close to the crime scene.

Riley says not only did his reputation suffer, but also his business. He began losing customers at his Spokane tattoo shop. The arrest traumatized his wife and kids.

Now, Riley is suing the Sheriff's Office and Spokane County Prosecutor.

The crime occurred in the parking lot of Ichabod's East in Spokane Valley. After a fight broke out, Daniel Jarman, a 40-year-old father, died at the hospital. A few women drinking at the bar told Detective Marc Melville the suspect introduced himself as Joe Riley earlier that night.

Riley says he never met those women or the man who claimed to be him.

"They withheld video from inside the bar showing I was never there," Riley said. "The bartender that works at Ichabod's knows who I am and even went to the police and told them he was not there." 

Riley spent two weeks in jail and had limited contact with his family.

"Imagine what it feels like knowing that you are completely innocent and nobody is listening, nobody is even looking into it," Riley said.

Charges were eventually dropped in 2020, but the damage had already been done. Riley racked up debt defending himself, posting bail, and hiring a private investigator.

"I had to sell all of my kids' Christmas presents, our four-wheeler, our boat," Riley said.

The damage to his name and reputation was even more devastating.

"I have walked into a grocery store many, many, many times and people pointed me out and started questioning me, and drilling me, and humiliating me," Riley said.

As Riley tries to rebuild his life, he knows he's not the only one in pain.

"There's two victims involved in this," Riley said. "The person who lost his life and his children and the things he had going on, and I almost completely lost mine." 

No one has been convicted of Daniel Jarman's death. However, detectives later focused on another suspect. He was at the bar and his DNA was found in the victim's car right before the beating. The Spokane County prosecutor declined to charge the man, saying they couldn't prove whether he acted in self-defense.

KREM 2 did reach out to the Sheriff's Office. A spokesperson declined to comment, citing the ongoing civil suit.