July 06, 2012

The Wrong Teresa

If I'm reading it right, this thoroughly, obviously innocent woman spent 53 days in jail because the cop who responded to her stolen truck report didn't listen carefully enough to the last name of a subsequent suspect wanted for assault who also happened to be named Teresa.

It seems to have been abundantly clear to everyone in the system they had the wrong person, but no one in the police department, the jail, or the DA's office seems to have cared that much either way, so the system ratified and processed the cop's initial mistake, compounding it into an impressive miscarriage of justice that nobody seemed to care about either.

"That's not her," the assault victim finally was able to tell the judge when the case eventually came up, although he had called the police and the DA's office several times to say they had the wrong Teresa. Oops. The judge apologized and dismissed the felony assault charge but then, somehow, managed to forget about an additional misdemeanor assault charge, so she had to stay in jail for another week till that too was dismissed. Oops again. Ho hum.

Then, this happened:

Culpepper was released from jail on Oct. 12 to find she had been evicted, all her belongings stolen and her truck sold for parts to cover the towing company’s costs. Culpepper had to repay the federal government the $1,000 disability payment for her medical condition that was deposited in her account while she was in jail; the law does not allow for disability payments to be made to anyone in jail even if they have not yet been convicted of committing a crime.

“Everything was gone,” Culpepper said.

She'd have been better off not reporting the theft in the first place, quite obviously. The moral of the story, I guess, is: don't report a stolen vehicle if you suspect that you may share a first name with anyone else living in the same metropolitan area. (Or make sure you have an unusual name: the arresting officer himself, one Jaidon Codrington, seems to have the right idea there. On the other hand, if your name happens to be Jaidon something-or-other and you find yourself unexpectedly suspended for ten days and given an Officer of the Year award a bit later, you'll know what probably happened.)

The heads that should roll over this will not roll all that much, of course. The "domino effect of indifference" alluded to in the article will doubtless remain. And officer Jaidon Codrington will still be on the job rounding up God only knows whom on the basis of God only knows what. So it goes. (The settlement for cases like this should come out of the officers' and DA's salary and pension: I'd vote for that reform.)

(via an Instapundit "tar/feathers" link.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at July 6, 2012 01:23 AM