A voice against wrong arrest
Special to the Sierra Sun
Nevada City native Bethany Farber says she wants to be a voice for those who have gone through experiences like hers.
Last April, Farber was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport and jailed for 13 days after authorities mistook her for another woman with the same name and did not try to confirm her identity, according to a lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
She is suing the city of Los Angeles, as well as its police department and airport police.
Since news of the lawsuit spread last week, after it was reported on by a number of news outlets, Farber said Sunday that she has received support on a national level.
“I also have had an outpouring of messages of people who have been wrongfully incarcerated or arrested, or been in a similar situation,” said Farber.
“Mine is definitely special in how it all happened, and for the length of time, and for everything that happened during that time — losing my grandmother and all of that — so my story is unique, but I definitely would like to be a voice for the people that have experienced being violated and haven’t been able to do anything about it.”
Farber, currently a Southern California resident, said she was arrested last April solely based on having the same first and last name as a woman wanted on a warrant from Texas.
“There was no procedure as far as checking her mugshot, visual appearance, age, birth date, Social Security, middle name,” she said. “None of that was taken into consideration when they threw me in jail.”
Recounting the process her friends, family and attorneys underwent while she was in jail last year, Farber said two attorneys in Texas drove to the district attorney’s office in the county where the warrant originated to inform them that the wrong person was in custody; a friend was contacting authorities daily to inform the judge; and another friend was able to obtain Farber’s phone records indicating that she was in California when the crime for which she was arrested had occurred in Texas.
Farber’s mother, Terry Brodie, said last week she had sent those phone records to the person who had written the warrant in Cooke County, Texas, and received notice two days later that the information had been shared with the Cooke County District Attorney’s Office.
“(It is) to be noted that if somebody didn’t have the same resources or family fighting for them daily, how long would I have been incarcerated?” asked Farber. “What process would have happened if they just had a public defender, and I went to court and they just continued to book me — if I just would have said I’m not guilty, how long would this process have taken for them to figure it out?”
Asked what she would want people to know about her case, Farber said, “I definitely really want this to be impactful, because this is something that is happening all the time and it needs to be brought to light.”
“There needs to be policy and procedure so that this can protect people that are innocent and who are being wrongfully incarcerated,” she said.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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