After 8 years in jail with no conviction, Emmanuel Fair is finally free. In 2008, Fair was named as the lead suspect in a murder case following a party that ended in the sexual assault and strangulation of a 24 year old Indian woman named Arpana Jinaga. Jinaga was one of several hosts of a Halloween party that took place between several apartments, including her own, in the Valley View Apartment complex located in Redmond City, Seattle. Following the murder, local authorities zeroed in on Fair due to him being the only Black man at the party, and his past criminal record. According to reporting by Rolling Stone “based on more than a thousand pages of case files and legal documents,” Fair was arrested in 2010, and was housed in the King County jail for eight years, seven months, and 14 days without ever being convicted of a crime.
“I’ve never seen a worse case,” says Corinne Sebren, one of Fair’s lawyers. “There’s very little justice left to salvage.”
But Fair is going after it all, suing everyone responsible for keeping him wrongfully imprisoned for so long. Fair filed a lawsuit against the county, the city of Redmond, and the Redmond Police Department. Fair also filed a lawsuit against Detective Coats, the lead detective on the case who after reviewing photos from the party and noticing that Fair was the only Black man present, said he looked like “an outsider” and seemed to have it out for him from the very beginning.
Fair’s lawsuit claims the detectives on the case “ignored and failed to gather evidence that did not align with their theory of the case,” and almost nine years later, he was released.
This past week, his legal team also filed a new complaint. The suit contends that if Fair had not been a Black man, he would have never ended up in jail, and certainly not for the length of time he was imprisoned. According to Rolling Stone, the investigation was described as being, “so badly handled it can only be characterized as bizarre.”
From racial discrimination to insufficent evidence, to calling in a psychic medium, Fair was wrapped in a circus that kept him locked up for years, robbing him of his youth and a chance to be a thriving member of his community and society at large. Now at 38, Fair is attempting to start life anew, and lives in his aunt and uncle’s home Seattle’s Central District.
He now faces the same issues most Black men face once released, whether or not their arrest and imprisonment was just; difficulty finding employment, housing, and financial instability.
“I’m out,” Fair says, “but I’m not free.”