A California woman claims she was held in jail for 13 days in what is being described as a case of mistaken identity. The Los Angeles woman filed a lawsuit for the arrest and said she suffered symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder because of the alleged imprisonment.
Bethany K. Farber said she was flying to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, on April 16 for a family vacation. She was about to board a flight out of Los Angeles International Airport when she was detained.
"I was about to board the flight just waiting at the gate," Farber told NPR. "Then TSA ended up calling me to the desk and then escorting me to the hall, where they immediately told me to put my things down and go against the wall and put my hands up."
Transportation Security Administration personnel escorted Farber to a private room, the lawsuit states, adding that she waited there for two hours before being informed that there was a warrant for her arrest out of Texas. Farber maintained that she had never been to Texas.
"Plaintiff informed the TSA officers who prevented her from boarding her flight that she had never been to Texas, and she certainly was not wanted for any crime there. Plaintiff repeatedly asked the TSA officers to check again, and further informed them that if there was in fact a warrant for her arrest it was identity theft," the lawsuit said.
"At no time did City Defendants ask Plaintiff for her driver’s license, date of birth, age, social security number or any other information which would have proven that Plaintiff did not have any warrant for her arrest in the State of Texas. ... By looking at a picture of Plaintiff and a picture of the other Bethany Farber, City Defendant’s would have realized Plaintiff should not have been arrested at all," the lawsuit claimed, according to NBC News.
The Los Angeles Police Department booked Farber at the Lynwood Women's Jail, where she was incarcerated for the next 13 days.
The lawsuit asserts that authorities were searching for a different Bethany Farber – who is a dark-haired 34-year-old woman from Texas and is wanted for property damage. The jailed Bethany K. Farber has long blonde hair and is younger than the Farber wanted in Texas.
"Her family hired attorneys in Texas and LA and finally were able to show through Farber’s cell phone GPS that Farber was in California on the day prosecutors alleged the crime took place in Texas," KTTV reported.
"It could happen to anyone," Farber told the outlet about her alleged false imprisonment.
"This is an experience that no one should go through," she said.
Farber's lawyer, Rodney Diggs, said in a statement, "They did not check the basic information to determine that Bethany K. Farber was not the other Bethany Farber."
"The LAPD failed to do the bare minimum of their job, which they could have done by checking her phone, checking her birth date, checking her Social Security number, checking her fingerprints through live scan, or just checking photos of the other Bethany. But they didn't do any of that," Diggs told NPR.
Making things even worse, Farber's 90-year-old grandmother reportedly suffered a fatal stress-induced stroke while she was in jail. Farber was able to see her grandmother before she died, but said, "I missed a lot of her last days in the hospital."
KTTV reported, "The suit seeks $2.5 million for emotional distress and for every day Farber was incarcerated. Among those named, the City of Los Angeles, LAPD, and LAX police. None of them would comment on pending litigation."
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