“Teresa” was the 226th most popular baby name in 1992 in America. So there are at least a few Teresas around.
But when Teresa Culpepper was arrested for a crime she didn’t commit, she didn’t expect it to be simply because she shared the same first name with the actual offender.
On August 21, 2011, Teresa Culpepper called the police to report her car stolen. Within hours, she was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault — except the assault was allegedly committed by another Teresa, Teresa Gilbert. The police were confused because both Teresas were in the same neighborhood. Simple confusion, quickly resolved, right? No. Nobody bothered to verify her identity with the victim, nor did they bother to check their details that would have cleared up the confusion — such as ID, birth date, medical records, or anything that would have proven she did not have the same name as the woman they were seeking to arrest.
Instead, the police just threw Ms Culpepper in jail. She was indicted, handed a bond she couldn’t possibly cover and then was held in custody for 53 days — seven weeks. Even more incredibly, it took a court hearing and testimony of the complainant to actually get Ms Culpepper released. She was finally set free on October 12 once the victim testified that she was not, in fact, the Teresa who had allegedly attacked her. Culpepper walked out of the jailhouse homeless and with her car in the police impound lot, with not so much as an apology.
Surely someone in Fulton County Jail, Atlanta knows how to, I don’t know, read a piece of identification? Apparently not. And that lack of ability to do basic investigative work may cost them: Ms Culpepper’s attorney has filed notice of intent to sue the city for wrongful imprisonment.
Tell me: is this the same police work that lands people on death row?
Photo Credit: Banspy on Flickr.