What would you do if the police showed up at your house and arrested you for assaulting a man you didn’t know? Well, if you were Teresa Culpepper, your options would be seriously limited.
Culpepper was arrested and charged with felony aggravated battery and misdemeanor assault. Her alleged victim was a man she had never met, Angelo Boyd, a man who told the police they had the wrong woman. Still Culpepper spent 53 days in the Fulton County Jail.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Culpepper called the police on the morning of August 21 to report her pick-up had been stolen. Atlanta Police Officer Jaidon Codington responded and took her report.
A few hours later, Angelo Boyd called the police to report that his girlfriend had just assaulted him by pouring boiling water on his back. Codington was dispatched. This time he was called to pick up Teresa Gilbert (Boyd’s girlfriend) from her home on Ashby Circle.
For unknown reasons, Codington went to Culpepper’s address on Hawkins Street, where he had taken her report earlier. He arrested her for the assault on Boyd.
“The addresses were different; the call came from Ashby Circle but Culpepper was picked up more than a mile away on Hawkins Street. Gilbert was described as 41 years old, 5-foot-9, with a gold tooth and wearing her hair in a bun. Culpepper, now 47, is 5-foot-6 and she did not have a gold tooth nor was her hair in a bun. Several people on Hawkins Street saw Culpepper at the boarding house at the same time Boyd was doused with hot water.”
That day and on subsequent days, officers would discuss the discrepancies, but nothing would come of it. With no family in the area and her mother unable to pay for collect calls from jail, Culpepper sat for more than 50 days before she went before the judge to be indicted.
It was there that Boyd again said, “that’s not her.” But this time, someone listened. The judge apologized, dismissed the felony and said he would get her released.
Unfortunately, it would be another week before the misdemeanor charge would get dismissed and Culpepper would be set free. She was released to find herself evicted and her truck having been sold for parts.
So, just how common is this? The thing about mistaken identity cases is that it’s hard to tell how often it happens. Usually, however, mistakes like this are corrected soon after the arrest is made.
The bottom line is that arrests based on mistaken identity do happen. And having someone there to advocate for you is crucial in getting any criminal matter resolved in a just manner and with as few delays as possible.