A recent police mix-up has left a Michigan man with a tarnished reputation and a viable claim of false arrest.

According to reports, a Michigan State Police trooper who had been investigating a child pornography case discovered evidence on a computer belonging to another man with the same first and last name, but a different middle name. Somehow, the trooper became confused over the middle names in his report.

When compared to the actual suspect, the misidentified man has a different build, lives 120 miles away, and is nine years older. Unfortunately, none of those distinctions came to the trooper’s attention. The innocent man was arrested at home in front of his wife, and he spent three days in jail before the police discovered the name switch-up.

Although police officials have limited immunity in some actions arising from their official police duties, a court has preliminarily ruled that the innocent man can proceed in a claim of false arrest against the trooper. According to the court, a police officer’s immunity may be waived when his or her actions might be deemed incompetent by a reasonableness standard.

Our law firm has represented many clients who have suffered from police misconduct, such as a false arrest. Under state law, a false arrest is defined when an individual’s liberty or freedom of movement was restrained unlawfully.

In the context of police actions, one example of a false arrest is when there was no probable cause to support the individual’s arrest or detention. In such a case, a claim may lie against the individual police officer. In less common examples, a pattern or practice of false arrests against a group of people may give rise to a claim against the municipality or local governing entity. To learn more about this issue in Michigan, check out our law firm’s website.

Source: WoodTV, “Court: Wrongful arrest victim can sue MSP trooper,” March 22, 2017