An 18-year-old college freshman claims he was traumatized after police arrested him and put him in jail for
four days in the belief he had a federal warrant, CBS Baltimore reports.
Jawon Johnson, a freshman at West Virginia University who also plays wide receiver on the school’s football team, was pulled over Saturday by Havre de Grace police for making an illegal U-turn. The infraction would usually result in a ticket, but Johnson got handcuffed and transported to the Harford County Detention Center instead on a federal warrant for burglary.
“They arrested me and took me back to the station and showed me a picture of who the guy actually was,”Johnson told The Baltimore Sun. “It wasn’t me, but they said they still had to hold me until the marshals came and got me.”
From CBS Baltimore:
Jawon, with an “o”, was accused of being another Jawan Johnson involved in a burglary case in D.C. The man wanted by the federal government spells his name with an “a”. It took police four days to realise their mistake. All the while, Johnson sat behind bars innocent.
“I was in the cell 23 hours a day,” he said.
Adding to Johnson’s frustration, since the warrant was issued in Washington, U.S. Marshals had to transport him back to federal court in Baltimore about 45 minutes away, according to The Sun.
Once there, marshals sent his fingerprints and photo to prosecutors in Washington, who confirmed they had the wrong person.
“When you have similar photos, name and date of birth … the stars looked aligned,” Havre de Grace police spokesperson Jeff Gilpin told The Sun, noting both Johnsons had the same birthday. “We honestly thought everything was on the up and up.”
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