Thursday, October 20, 2011
Atlanta woman wrongly imprisoned for 53 days because of name mix-up
An Atlanta woman says she was mistakenly imprisoned for 53 days because police confused her for someone else with the same first 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.
"I just don't think in another side of town this would have ever happened," Merchant says. She says the city must settle with Culpepper or face a lawsuit, and added that the police department is investigating the incident.
"I didn't know what to do," Culpepper told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I didn't know how to get out this situation."