A woman is suing the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) after reportedly being arrested at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) while waiting to board a flight.
The cops apparently thought she was someone else.
And the story gets much worse from there.
Mistaken Identity Arrest at LAX
Bethany K. Farber, a 30-year-old from L.A. suburb Agoura Hills, planned to visit family in Mexico last April. Her intended destination? Puerto Escondido.
(I couldn’t find any nonstop flights from LAX to Puerto Escondido, which is served by Volaris. I’m guessing this incident occurred at the Tom Bradley International Terminal — where Volaris is based at LAX.)
She told NPR, “TSA ended up calling me to the desk and then escorting me to the hall, where they immediately told me to put my things down and go against the wall and put my hands up… They arrested me and told me it was for a statewide fugitive warrant in Texas.”
Ms. Farber claims she’s never been to Texas. What happened? Someone also named Bethany Farber was wanted on a fugitive warrant. They arrested the wrong person.
But that could quickly be cleared up. Right?
Once LAPD officers arrived and took her into custody, “[t]hey didn’t try to verify her identity at all,” Ms. Farber’s lawyer, Rodney Diggs, told NPR.
(Full disclosure: In the mid-late 2010s, I produced an annual charity event benefiting several organizations, including the LAPD Hollenbeck PAL program. I also volunteered about three hours of consulting services to the LAPD as part of a community awareness project in 2011.)
“The LAPD failed to do the bare minimum of their job,” said Mr. Diggs, “which they could have done by checking her phone, checking her birth date, checking her Social Security number, checking her fingerprints through live scan, or just checking photos of the other Bethany.”
Wanna see a quick comparison? The actual alleged fugitive is on the left.
Ms. Farber was reportedly taken to the Century Regional Detention Facility (colloquially known as “Lynwood”) where she spent 13 days. Why? Bail was not an option. (I’m guessing this was a federal thing. The Los Angeles County District Attorney doesn’t seem to be a big fan of things like bail or punishment.)
And that’s still not the end of it.
Mr. Diggs says (via NPR) in the suit that “Los Angeles officials ‘were contacted by the courts in Texas and informed that [Farber] did not have arrest warrants against her. But she continued to be held for an additional three days.'”
But wait. There’s more.
Ms. Farber says her grandmother suffered a stroke, which she attributes to the stress of having a granddaughter wrongfully imprisoned. Ms. Farber was out of jail just in time to say goodbye before her grandmother died.
Ms. Farber filed a civil lawsuit, claiming her Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights were violated.
The LAPD reportedly declined comment, citing pending litigation.
A woman was the victim of mistaken identity and arrested at LAX. She spent nearly two weeks in jail before finally being released. She’s now suing the LAPD.
Let’s hope this is a lesson for people in charge of, you know, arresting people for outstanding warrants.
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