Woman Mistakenly Jailed for 2 Months Due To Her First Name

How the fuck does anything like this ever happen?

Atlanta police are launching an internal investigation into the case of a woman who was arrested by mistake and held in jail for nearly two months, Channel 2 Action News reports.
Channel 2 Action News Teresa Culpepper’s nightmare began Aug. 21, when she called police to report her truck had been taken from in front of her Hawkins Street home. She ended up being arrested for an aggravated assault allegedly committed by another woman named Teresa.

Police are seeking to determine what happened and if any policies or procedures were violated in the arrest of Teresa Culpepper, who spent 53 days wrongfully incarcerated in Fulton County Jail because she had the same name, Teresa, as a woman wanted by authorities.

“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to get out this situation,” Culpepper told Channel 2.

The woman’s nightmare began Aug. 21, when she called police to report her truck had been taken from in front of her Hawkins Street home. She ended up being arrested for an aggravated assault allegedly committed by another woman named Teresa.

“Her birth date didn’t match. Her address didn’t match. Her description didn’t match. Other than the name Teresa, nothing matched,” said Culpepper’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant.

9 Comments

  1. Not nearly as serious, but once a friend of mine (college student, still living at home with the family) was targeted by the local police because he had the same first and last name as someone else. One night the cops started beating on their door at 3am, hoping to catch the bad guy off guard, and they stood around angrily questioning my friend and his sleepy family for a while. Eventually, my friend’s dad asked to see their paperwork, and the situation was resolved when he said, “You do realize my son’s not 5’2″ and Hispanic, don’t you?”

  2. My dad was once picked up and questioned by the Secret Service. I grew up in the town where Harry Truman retired, and apparently, a man fitting my dad’s description had just walked up to the Truman home and punched one of the agents in the nose, breaking it.

  3. What freaks me out is that it wasn’t solved until the victim in the case came to court to deny that Culpepper was the person who assaulted them. They would have tried Culpepper for assault just because some asshole couldn’t check paperwork and admit a mistake.

  4. This is flabbergasting. Depending on how the Georgia courts work, she would likely have been before a judge with counsel at least twice for arraignment and a commitment hearing. A defense attorney should be raising enough of a stink when the cops arrest the wrong person that the prosecutor feels compelled to make sure the State is holding the person it thinks it’s holding, and the judge should be making sure that the prosecutor realizes that’s part of his or her job. I’d really like to know more about the tragicomedy of errors that led to this.

  5. When I read the blurb, my first cynical thought was, “Uh because she’s black?” Of course I needed to confirm my suspicion, and thus clicked through the link.

    I wanted to be wrong, but alas…

  6. My wife was nearly arrested because her middle and last name were the same as a wanted person – not her first and other middle name (she has two on her license) but one middle and last name. Fortunately the trooper did at least call in to verify a description. Amazing this still happens in the information age.

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