Nobody is perfect. Every person makes mistakes from time to time, and, as such, human institutions are not perfect either. Law enforcement can be particularly challenging, with the wide range of variables and stressors with which officers must deal on a daily basis. When law enforcement agencies make an error, however, the lives of innocent individuals are often greatly affected in a negative way. Most reasonable people are willing to forgive an honest mistake, even if it causes a relatively significant inconvenience. But, what if the same mistake happens three times? That is exactly the situation facing a Bridgeport man who has been wrongly arrested three times by local police due to mistaken identity.
Same Name, Different Men
Pedro Martinez, a 52-year-old man living in Bridgeport, has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city of Bridgeport and its police department after he was wrongly arrested for the third time and detained for four days last summer. It seems that there is another man by the name of Pedro Martinez from Texas with an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Somehow, the suit alleges, Bridgeport police cannot seem to remember that the local Martinez is not the same man wanted in Texas and, during the most recent arrest, refused to use simple identification techniques to avoid a mistake.
Martinez has been arrested twice before on the same warrant, but brief questioning revealed that he did not have the distinctive forearm tattoos that the Texas man is known to have. For some reason, however, the third time was different. According to the lawsuit, when Martinez was arrested in August of last year, he was booked and fingerprinted, but begged the booking officers to compare his fingerprints to those of the man wanted in Texas. Martinez claims the officers refused to do so. He was arraigned but was released four days later by a Superior Court judge due to fingerprints not matching.
Suit Seeks Compensation
It is unclear if the two Martinez men share more than a name. The Bridgeport man’s attorney says he does not know if the two look similar or have similar dates of birth. He is sure, however, that the whole situation could have been avoided by a simple fingerprint comparison early in processing. The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff’s rights to due process and to be free from false arrest and detention were violated. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for severe emotional distress caused by the police’s “deliberate indifference,” especially since it was not the first time Martinez was falsely arrested.
If you have been mistaken for someone else and arrested, you may face serious challenges in restoring your freedom. Contact an experienced Hartford criminal defense attorney to discuss your options. We will help you take the steps necessary in protecting your rights and holding the police department accountable for their actions. Call [[phone1]] to schedule a free confidential consultation at the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, today.