The Craziest Cases Of Mistaken Arrest

Being impartial and being indiscriminate are related ideas with extremely different degrees of desirability. For instance, children who readily eat veggies and desserts are impartial between the two, whereas children who'll eat anything probably have pica. We want kids food-neutral enough to have well-balanced diets. We don't want them stuffing their egalitarian guts with every speck of dirt under the sun.

Similarly, justice should be blind — but not aimless. It should be decisive, but not onerously inflexible. And it should certainly be less prone to the mental upchuck and erroneous arrests that occur in this article. Behold.

The Krystal Kreme Methamphetamine

Orlando resident Daniel Rushing liked to drive his cancer-stricken neighbor to chemo appointments and ferry his elderly friend home from work. And because karma's awesome, in 2015 Rushing got rewarded with false imprisonment.

While playing friend of the year, Rushing improperly exited a parking lot and also drove 12 mph over the speed limit. As The Orlando Sentinel reports, nearby officers took notice and pulled him over. At that point, eagle-eyed corporal Shelby Riggs-Hopkins spotted something on Rushing's floorboards.  She would write in her police report, "I recognized through my eleven years of training and experience as a law enforcement officer the substance to be some sort of narcotic."

That recognizable "narcotic" was actually icing that flaked off of Rushing's Krispy Kreme donuts. One can only wonder whether Riggs-Hopkins' training ever led her to nail people for smoking eclairs and snorting powdered crullers. Rushing explained that the curious car crumbs were merely delicious pastry droppings. But Riggs-Hopkins and fellow officers analyzed the icing with a field drug test. One that none of them were trained to use. Somehow they detected crystal meth.

Although Rushing wasn't actually breaking bad, he still got a bad break, one that included mug shots and strip searching. According to ABC News, one month later an actual drug lab identified the so-called meth as icing. Naturally, Rushing sued the city of Orlando, and won a settlement of $37,500.

The Baking Soda Blues

Married truckers Gale Griffin and Wendall Harvey used to have run-of-the-mill jobs transporting explosives for the military. And just like any spouses who move deadly materials for a living, they loved purchasing huge quantities of baking soda and keeping it in sandwich bags. So far, so normal, right? But for some reason, large stashes of white powder look suspicious to law enforcement. Probably not Krispy Kreme suspicious, but sketchy enough.

ABC affiliate KATV explains that circumstances reached sasquatch-levels of hairy during an inspection of their truck during a stop at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, in 2016. Authorities spotted the dubiously packaged baking soda and hit up some narcs for assistance. Officers from the Barling PD came armed with state-of-the-art, $2 Narcotics Identification Kits (NIKs). Griffin's and Harvey's freedom now depended on the accuracy and reliability of technology that costs less than a Taco Bell Crunchwrap. Worse yet, NIKs regularly detect phantom drugs.

The flawed test results indicated that Griffin and Harvey had nearly a pound of coke, which would certainly be worth more than $2. The cops figured they'd caught a couple of roadway Escobars and locked the pair up. Two months dragged by, during which the spouses lost their jobs, their trucks, and their military clearance. Cell overcrowding forced Griffin to sleep by a toilet, perfectly capturing her crappy situation.

Harvey sent letters to a judge, a prosecutor, and possibly Arm & Hammer, requesting to have the baking soda retested. His persistence paid off, and a drug lab cleared him and his wife of wrongdoing.

The Case Of The Mile-High Mix-Up

In 2010, Christian Robinson applied for a job as a chef at a Las Vegas hotel — and he didn't get the job because there was a warrant out for his arrest. As it turned out, a guy named Michael Cagle stole his identity, Denver's ABC affiliate explains. Robinson was erroneously saddled with Cagle's felony drug charges, and lost out on the job he should've gotten.

Flummoxed, Robinson jetted off to mile-high Denver, Colorado where the charges were filed. Resolving the mix-up should have been easy, right? Robinson didn't look the least bit like Cagle. He even offered up his fingerprints for comparison. But all the officers could see was a pair of wrists in need of cuffing.

After a 12-day stint in the pokey, Robinson found himself standing before a judge. There he discovered something interesting: one of the Cagle's legs had a distinctive Scooby-Doo tattoo. Robinson smartly surmised that baring his thighs might sway authorities in his favor. So in a last-ditch attempt to quash all this Scooby-Dooby Doody, he dropped his pants in the middle of court. Lo and behold, there wasn't a cartoon canine in sight. The judge had no choice but to let him go.

Because Denver cops had screwed the pooch big time, the city had to make amends. Government officials offered Robinson $88,530, which The Denver Post confirms that Robinson accepted.

The Facebook Fiend Request

Atlanta-based music producer David Cunningham goes by the alias Dun Deal, ostensibly because he's a cunning ham who's done deals. Though not a household name like Quincy Jones or most serial killers, Deal has dun well enough that random people seek his hand in Facebook friendship. In the past he's embraced these superficial relationships. But a 2016 report by CBS46 reveals how badly that can go.

Back in 2014, Deal received a friend request from one Ronnica Westmoreland and made a fateful click. Not only had he befriended someone with a taste for sweet beats, he had unwittingly tagged himself as a potential criminal. See, Westmoreland had loaned a rental car to four dudes who jacked $80,000 worth of jewelry from an Augusta, Georgia Costco, where even theft comes in bulk. Eventually, police questioned Westmoreland, and she claimed one of the perps went by "David" — Deal's legal first name.

Augusta authorities scoured Westmoreland's Facebook page for Davids and zeroed in on a photo of Deal standing next to someone clad in diamonds. That sparkly someone was Birdman –- the rapper, not the cartoon lawyer Deal probably needed. Police tried to trick the producer into confessing. But Deal, who'd never even visited Augusta, didn't buckle. So, naturally, officers manufactured evidence to secure an arrest warrant.

The FBI then pounced, arresting Deal and raiding his Atlanta office. The producer stewed in jail for 10 days. After the truth emerged, the government of Augusta made a $300,000 apology.

Double Trouble

The only thing worse than getting erroneously imprisoned is having it happen twice (or never getting exonerated the first time, but you get the point). Just ask Santiago Rivera, who had the dubious honor of getting confused with the same drunk driver twice in 20 years.

In all fairness, there were some jarring coincidences that made arresting Rivera seem justified. The Los Angeles Times reports that Rivera had the same first name, last name, birthday, and basic physical stature as the drunken driver cops were after. They didn't share a middle name, but "wait, stop, I'm a tiny bit different from the suspect," doesn't sound like a winning defense.

Rivera's first jail stay occurred in 1989 and lasted a week. Thankfully, he and his sloshed doppelganger didn't have the same hands because fingerprint records saved his bacon. Upon release, Rivera received a valuable parting gift: documentation of his innocence. Then a bunch of stuff happened and it was suddenly the year 2009. By then, Rivera had lost track of his exculpatory letter. Guess how that turned out.

Or don't guess, since you already know the answer. Without his paperwork, the yoyo-inmate hybrid asked law enforcement to check his claims. Officers couldn't be bothered, and Rivera sat in jail for a month. This time he sued for damages. But an appeals court rebuffed Rivera, using the argument that the officers reasonably believed Rivera was, um, Rivera. A partly dissenting judge noted, however, that declining to check whether your prisoner's innocent seems like a pretty bad idea.

Oakland's Unreal G

From outward appearances, Chau Van's existence used to be pretty plain. He was a self-professed real estate consultant and freelance web designer, and had a relatively average life. However, as The San Francisco Gate reports, things got upended in 2012 when a friend unexpectedly called with unbelievable news: Van had inexplicably landed on Oakland, California's most wanted list.

Initially Van laughed off his pal's revelation, thinking it was all a joke. But a quick web search revealed that the Oakland PD had painted him as a gun-toting gangbanger who'd committed a shooting. In reality, Van was innocent and had no interest in being public enemy number one when he was really number none. Accordingly, he consulted a lawyer who convinced him to approach the Oakland PD directly.

To the lawyer's credit, the police didn't jail Van over the alleged shooting. Instead they said he'd tenderized someone with a baseball bat. Oakland's police chief, meanwhile, publicly bragged about bagging him. Soon thereafter, the OPD released Van, having charged him with, well, nothing. Nonetheless, he remained on the most wanted list for six months and thanked the OPD with a lawsuit. 

However, that suit got eighty-sixed, Courthouse News asserts, because the wanted man's legal arguments were deemed wanting, and he actually was in a scuffle involving a baseball bat (acting in self-defense, according to Van). Go figure.

Diagnosis: Murderer

Nurses see more than their fair share of death, and all that bucket-kicking can take a real mental toll. It's vital, then, to have a strong coping strategy to avoid drowning in tears and defibrillators. Some nurses, for instance employ morbid jokes, which can work beautifully if everyone knows you're joking. Otherwise, things can get very grim very fast. Case in point: Jani Adams.

In 1980, Jani Adams worked as a night shift nurse for Las Vegas's Sunrise Hospital. A dabbler in the dark side of humor, she called herself the "Angel of Death" and facetiously took bets on when certain patients would pass away, according to People magazine. While that would be way awkward for a patient to overhear, Adams' fellow nurses generally played along with her jests. But not everyone got the joke.

When Nurse Barbara Farro got bumped to Adams' shift, she bristled at her colleagues' seemingly blithe approach to death. One of Adams' patients had spent the past three months battling liver failure, The Chicago Tribune reports, and was now on his last legs. Realizing there was little she could do, Adams decreased the oxygen being pumped into his system and played cards with coworkers as the patient slipped into eternal repose.

A flabbergasted Farro contacted police. A media circus ensued in which Adams was pilloried as a callous predator. The Death Angel was indicted for murder — only to be swiftly vindicated once medical findings established that the patient was irreversibly ill.  

Deceased But Not Desisted

In 2009 Shannon McNeal had a head-on collision with absurdity during a traffic stop in Ferguson, Missouri. According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, police had an arrest warrant out for one Shannon Raquel McNeal at the time, who had missed a court date on account of being dead. Her distinctly not-alive state wasn't news to the cops, the Post-Dispatch explains, and they were prepared to rescind the arrest order once they got a death certificate. Then Murphy's Law intervened.

Unfortunately for Shannon Renee McNeal, a click-happy court clerk accidentally conflated her personal info with the dead woman's during data entry. Infuriating wackiness ensued. Police detained the very much alive McNeal as her bewildered children watched in horror. At the station, photo and fingerprints records clearly showed that officers had grabbed the wrong lady. Realizing this, they jailed her anyway, because what's justice got to do with it?. McNeal lost a day of freedom, her job as a city bus driver, her car, and her apartment. Later she even lost her last name after she legally changed it for some reason.

McNeal eventually resumed her job, but that pesky unemployment period cost her $11,000 in pay. Determined to recoup her losses, she sued. City officials gave McNeal $5,000 on the condition that law enforcement wouldn't have to cop to wrongdoing. Thankfully, Ferguson police took this as a sign to change their ways and were never involved in another controversy.

The French Disconnection

For something so humorless, misfortune has a funny way of sneaking up on people. One minute you could be happily smoking eclairs, and the next you're surrounded by loaded firearms. Crazy, right?  Even crazier is if the gun brigade shows up because international authorities think you kidnapped your own children. It sounds far-fetched, and yet that totally happened back in 2002.

As CBS News explains, Florida resident Nona Cason was driving her son and daughter to therapy when out of nowhere police cornered her and drew their weapons. Not eager to become a crimson bullet box, Cason obeyed their commands. Before she knew it, she had a six-day stint in jail, and her children were in foster care. Cason's crime: being confused with someone else.

French and American law enforcement believed Cason was really Nadine Tretiakoff, a French national who had absconded with her two children in 1996. Tretiakoff's distraught ex-husband, Pierre Fourcade wanted his children back and was convinced authorities had found them. Fourcade was so sure that during court proceedings he looked Cason right in the face and claimed she was his former wife of 20 years. Even so, the facts didn't add up.

Fourcade didn't recognize Cason's son as his. What's more, as USA Today points out, Cason had birth certificates and other documentation that showed her children weren't French. But ultimately DNA testing proved Cason's case. And after weeks of separation, she got her babies back.

Guilty Until Proven Guilty

In 2004, a group of Islamist extremists laid unholy siege to Madrid, Spain's commuter train system, extinguishing 191 lives and maiming over 1,800 with a series of powerful explosives. The ghastly assault precipitated a multinational manhunt by the FBI and Spanish authorities. Unfortunately, in its haste to fight terrorism, the FBI targeted the wrong guy.

As NBC details, that guy was Brandon Mayfield, whose only crime was being a lawyer –- and having a knack for meeting terror suspects. Mayfield, himself a Muslim, once represented a man in court who ended up being a would-be terrorist. He also hyped his lawyer skills through a business headed by someone with potential terror ties. Even Mayfield's wife once contacted an Islamic charity suspected of helping people....commit terrorism.

The FBI branded Mayfield a terrorist after flubbing fingerprint analyses related to the bombings. According to the Department of Justice, investigators latched onto insignificant details, failed to perform a complete print examination, and succumbed to circular reasoning. This slipshod detective work prompted agents to spy on the Mayfield family. After nearly blowing its cover, the FBI ransacked the Mayfield residence and snatched up everything from computers to Qurans to Spanish homework, the most damning evidence of all.

Agents also confiscated Mayfield, who spent two weeks in detention. His nightmare only ended when Spanish authorities identified an Algerian man as the actual suspect. The FBI had failed epically. Its only real recourse was to apologize and hand Mayfield $2 million

Love's Labor's Cost

It was 1999, a simpler time when the world still gushed over Monica Lewinski's blue dress and the Y2K bug prepared to unleash its impotence on the planet. The major event in Mohammad Javed's world, however, involved going gaga over a lady. In a BBC interview he recalls that the magic happened during a trip to Pakistan. While visiting relatives with his mother, he met a woman named Mobina. The two nearly broke the ground falling for each other.

Because Javed lived in India, he and Mobina largely communicated from afar.  They exchanged pages-long love letters that Javed's friends helped him translate into Mobina's native tongue. Javed poured his paychecks into long-distance phone calls. But after three years of this saccharine sweetness, Cupid got a little too aggressive and started stabbing Javed with an arrow.

That assault came in the form India's government, which somehow surmised that Javed wasn't some love-struck Romeo, but a filthy terrorist "waging war against India."  In 2002 government goons nabbed Javed and interrogated him Gitmo-style. They peppered him with bruises, issued threats, and repeatedly dunked his head in water. The CIA would have been proud.

Despite the evidence consisting of nada and bupkis, Javed and the friends who translated his letters got convicted of terrorism. Javed would languish behind bars while his father went broke trying to free him. Finally, after eleven and a half years, a judge ultimately deemed Javed's detention frothingly stupid and released him. It's so nice when love stories have a happy ending.