Teresa Culpepper

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.

Could this happen in any other locale in the “civilised world” except somewhere in the south of the United States? I think not.

An Atlanta woman says she was mistakenly imprisoned for 53 days because police confused her for someone else with the same first name.

Teresa Culpepper says she called police to report that her truck had been stolen in August. But when they showed up at her home, they arrested her for aggravated assault committed by another Teresa.

“All she has is the same first name. The only descriptions that match are ‘Teresa’ and ‘black female,'” Culpepper’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant told media.

Culpepper didn’t have the same address, birth date, height, or weight as the Teresa who was supposed to be arrested.

Merchant says Culpepper, who was legitimately convicted of a misdemeanor in the 90s, lives in a rough neighborhood where police are frequently on patrol.

She and her family were unable to post the $12,000 bond to get her out of jail, so she wasn’t released until her public defender found the victim of the assault and brought him to the court to say Culpepper was not the “Teresa” he had accused.

“I just don’t think in another side of town this would have ever happened,” Merchant says.

She says the city must settle with Culpepper or face a lawsuit. She says the police department is investigating the incident. “I didn’t know what to do,” Culpepper told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I didn’t know how to get out this situation.”

This is the same state, remember, that killed Troy Davis despite ample evidence he was innocent.

To be poor and black in the Southern states of the United States? And female?

No thank you, Jim Bob, Sir.

The American justice system seems to be comprehensively broken. When on earth will the ordinary folk of this great nation rise up and demand from its legislators and law enforcement agencies that they do better?

Watch TV coverage of the case here.


Thanks to Yahoo and others

  1. Another f*cking disgrace. I could see if they took a look…and they would have immediately found that it wasn’t her. But having the first name of Teresa was enough to lock her up.


    • Mr Wood says:

      As long as the police in this country continue to have ZERO personal liability for actions on their part, this will continue to happen. They have nothing to lose, nothing to worry about. It is a disgrace.


    • It really is hard to credit, isn’t it Jon? It seems completely impossible, and yet it happened. Thanks for commenting, and please pass the link on to your personal network.


  2. Michael says:

    In fairness, the “Non-Theresa Law” just went into effect.

    I didn’t hear about this at all. Maybe it wasn’t deemed important enough to warrant national coverage. I’m wondering how this happened. I mean, she was imprisoned for almost 2 months based on her first name? People in dictatorships get better treatment. Why didn’t the lawyer go to the press or the airwaves or even the Internet to draw attention to this travesty (maybe he did–I haven’t seen the actual story).


  3. Michael says:

    Okay, I’ll stop posting comments before having all the facts first. My apologies.


    • I think just another innocent person who fell thhough the cracks, Michael. And she only came to police attention because she was reporting a crime. How’s THAT for building confidence in the force? Anyhow, thanks so much for visiting and posting, and please share the link with your personal network.


  4. Ruth says:

    Sadly, I can see this situation happening much more easily than seems possible. The arresting officers aren’t generally held accountable for a “mistake” such as this. I know of two different people who were arrested for trying to fill valid prescriptions at the pharmacy. Both were caught up in oxycontin stings because they looked similar to people known to be doctor shopping. They looked similar — that’s all. Their prescriptions were real. Their names didn’t match anyone in the database.


  5. Arresting and imprisoning someone based solely on his or first name is incompetent and the officer(s) should be subject to dismissal. Will she sue for false imprisonment? Thanks for posting Stephen.


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