What do Bradley Braxton and a Christina FourHorn of Colorado have in common? Well, among others in the area, they were wrongfully arrested. Their identities did not match those of the suspects that Denver authorities were really looking for. Braxton, a black man, was arrested with a warrant for sexual assault. The suspect listed on the warrant not only had an entirely different name, but he was also white.
Arrests due to mistaken identity are not just limited to the above two people’s experiences. In fact, enough people have been wrongfully arrested in Denver for Colorado’s section of the American Civil Liberties Union to step in and sue the city and county for what it believes is negligence that has encroached upon the rights of the innocent people who’ve been wrongfully arrested in the city.
The lawsuit claims that between 2002 and 2009, there were more than 500 cases of wrongful arrests in Denver, with a possible extra 100 to add to that list since then. Should people here who have nothing to do with a supposed crime that’s been committed have to worry about being arrested by mistake and kept in custody?
The A.C. L.U. argues that innocent people’s freedoms have been put at risk and that Denver law enforcement has not taken the steps to address the problem. The problem has landed some innocent people in jail for weeks or even multiple times. An arrest is serious, and law enforcement needs to do its job to ensure that it’s creating a safer community not creating paranoia among its residents through sloppy arrests.
A group is reportedly looking into how to prevent a high number of wrongful arrests in the future. What will come from the A.C.L.U. lawsuit is yet to be seen. Until the problem is fixed, it’s best to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on-call in case you or a loved one is arrested for a crime that you didn’t commit.
The New York Times: “Mistaken Identity Cases at Heart of Denver Lawsuit Over Wrongful Arrests,” Dan Frosch, Feb. 16, 2012