Now imagine that, instead of taking a report and hopefully getting down to the bottom of who did it, they place you under arrest on the basis of you having the same first name as someone who was wanted on an aggravated assault charge.
That happened to Teresa Culpepper, and she ended up spending 53 days in county lockup before her publicly-appointed lawyer brought the victim of the assault in to clear the innocent Teresa's name.
Teresa Culpepper says she called police to report that her truck had been stolen in August. But when they showed up at her home, they arrested her for aggravated assault committed by another Teresa.
"All she has is the same first name. The only descriptions that match are 'Teresa' and 'black female,'" Culpepper's attorney, Ashleigh Merchant told The Lookout. Culpepper, who is 47, didn't have the same address, birth date, height, or weight as the Teresa who was supposed to be arrested.
Merchant says Culpepper, who was legitimately convicted of a misdemeanor in the 90s but otherwise has no criminal record, lives in a rough neighborhood where police are frequently on patrol. She and her family were unable to post the $12,000 bond to get her out of jail, so she wasn't released until her public defender found the victim of the assault and brought him to the court to say Culpepper was not the "Teresa" he had accused.
Wrong address, wrong birth date, wrong height and weight. Was this the case of lazy police work, with the arresting officers and administrative staff figuring it didn't matter who they brought in since they all look alike and did the same things? Keeping the wrong person locked up for 53 days is a sign of a systemic failure of process and procedures. Then again, we execute the wrong people on a regular basis in this country.