The Vallejo police officer who headed the kidnap investigation that officers first described as a hoax and then led to the FBI arrest of the alleged kidnapper has been named "Officer of the Year" for 2015.
Detective Matthew Mustard earned that city commendation in April, even though one of the most high-profile cases he investigated - that of the kidnap of Denise Huskins and boyfriend Aaron Quinn - turned out to be a national black eye for the department.
In an email Monday to NBC Bay Area, Vallejo police spokesman Jeff Bassett said Mustard was won the award through a "vote by his peers" and he beat out two other candidates. "His award was largely based on all the work he did related to the Ofc [Jim] Capoot murder investigation and prosecution. We will be no comments regarding the Huskins case."
Neither Huskins nor her attorney responded Monday for comment.
But she and her boyfreind sued Vallejo in March, saying the city damaged her and her boyfriend's reputations and forced them to move.
According to a statement by the couple’s attorney Kevin Clune, a partner with Kerr & Wagstaffe LLP, Huskins and Quinn were "bound, drugged and terrorized" by Matthew Muller, who broke into their home last March as they slept. He then kidnapped Huskins and raped her, Clune alleged.
During the ordeal, the "terrified couple" sought help from Vallejo police, who discredited and publicly shamed them, Clune continued. After Huskins reappeared in Southern California a few days later, Vallejo police said at a news conference the kidnapping was a hoax.
Police waged a "campaign of disparagement'' against Huskins and Quinn following Huskins' abduction last March and created a media frenzy with their "Gone Girl'' theory, according to the lawsuit.
Police held and interrogated Quinn as if he had "already been convicted of murdering Huskins'' after he reported the abduction instead of pursuing Huskins' kidnapper, according to the lawsuit.
Federal prosecutors subsequently charged Muller — a disbarred Harvard University-trained attorney — with kidnapping Huskins from her Vallejo home. Muller has pleaded not guilty.