A nursing mother was separated from her baby, handcuffed, and abruptly taken to jail and now, the state patrol and the Lakewood Police Department are investigating.
The mother told 7NEWS' John Ferrugia that she was terrified and humiliated by police mistakes.
It all began when the woman and her husband were pulled over during a routine traffic stop.
"I doubled up kids in the back seat in belts. So they were restrained, but not properly. But ... it was my fault for not having them in there properly," said father Ricky Archuleta.
Ricky expected a ticket but was surprised when the trooper told him he couldn't even drive.
"He ran my license. He came back and said it had been rescinded for an unpaid traffic ticket. I knew I had paid the ticket," Ricky said.
The fact is, he had and the computer got it wrong. Then, the officer said Ricky's wife, Mercedes, had to drive. While the trooper checked her license, she nursed her baby in the front seat. Suddenly, the officer was at Ricky's door.
"He said, 'Take the baby from your wife.' I said, 'Why?' He goes, 'Take the baby from your wife, now,'" Ricky said.
The officer didn't explain why he wanted Mercedes out of the car, the couple said.
"I took the baby off and started to cover up a little bit. When I started to step out of the car, he just told me put my right arm in back of me," said Mercedes. "He grabbed my left arm, put it in back of me, cuffed me and then I was thrown against the car. And my kids were crying."
"She got out of the car. He just kind of shoved her against there, and her blouse is undone. And all my kids see her just up against (the car). Immediately, they're like, 'What are they doing? What are they doing to Mom?'" Ricky said.
"I turned to him and said, 'Excuse me, why am I being arrested?' And he goes, 'You need to be silent,'" Mercedes said.
"I'm in shock. The baby's screaming. The kids start crying and screaming and I don't know what to do. I actually don't know what I said. I said something and he just yelled in the car and said, 'You need to be silent,'" Ricky said.
"He said, 'There's a warrant for your arrest.' I said, 'No, there's a mistake.' I said, 'There's no warrant for my arrest ... I've never been in trouble for anything in my life,'" Mercedes said.
"He was rude. I think he was overzealous," Ricky said.
"I thought I was going to get sick. I felt like I was going to faint. I was humiliated because I was there with this stranger and here I am with my blouse undone and he didn't give me a chance to tie it up, and I was just so worried for my baby," Mercedes said.
At the Jefferson County Jail, Mercedes was strip-searched and said it became clear to officers that she didn't match the description of a suspect who had tattoos and scars. She had neither.
"(The female officer) says, 'I know this isn't you.' And I said, 'Can you call someone? Can they release me?' She said, 'Nope, I can't do that,'" Mercedes said.
Mercedes and her husband were unaware of what got her there -- sloppy work by the Lakewood Police Department. A detective had substituted the innocent woman's information for a suspect with a lengthy police record.
Lakewood Division Chief Clarene Shelley said the detective made a big mistake. She said the Lakewood detective was trying to identify a woman involved in a domestic violence issue and when the detective pulled the name, Mercedes Archuleta, on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's crime computer, the name came up as an alias for Phyllis Rivera.
But instead of investigating whether Rivera was involved in the domestic violence dispute, the detective issued a warrant for the phony name Rivera had been using -- Mercedes Archuleta.
Shelley said the detectives never called Mercedes to ask her, 'Are you this person?' and she never checked Mercedes' address to see if it matched the address of the suspect.
What's more, the detective never pulled a photo of either person to verify identity.
"She just pulled my name up because I was the only one she could find about my age," Mercedes said.
While the police department has admitted its mistake and offered to meet with the family to apologize personally, Mercedes has declined. She said she is embarrassed and humiliated.
"If (the detective) had to spend a day in jail like I did and be scared, not knowing what's going to happen, and have her family crying and worried about her, then I think she would understand where I'm coming from," Mercedes said.
The Lakewood officer involved has been reprimanded, but not suspended.
The Colorado State Patrol has begun an internal investigation of the conduct and procedures of the trooper who made the arrest.
Meanwhile, Lakewood police and the city attorney have initiated steps to remove the arrest and any mention of the innocent woman from public records.
But clearly that has not yet been successful. Mercedes' arrest is still listed on the CBI database.
It seems like the number of LE's acting "over-zealously" is on the rise...fortunately they did not have a dog.
IF my wife had gone through this treatment, they would shortly be re-naming Lakewood...
I'm sure she posed a threat to national security by incorrectly restraining her kids and feeding them in the car...had she given the infant a donut...would the out-come have been the same...
It ain't gettin' better.
Someone's gonna get a bunch of change for the college fund on this one...
There's bigger problems than just the PD here:
I didn't know detectives issued warrants - here either judges or DA's (via Judicial blessing) do.
Lack of QA / Review by prosectutorial authorities?
I haven't even had a chance to draw down on a dog this year, much less shoot one.
Do you have a dog? Can you bring it by sometime?
Well, if you're just itching to shoot a dog, there's one down the street that's being severely neglected by its owner, but local animal control won't do anything about it since its in a fenced yard.
You could shoot a dog AND provide public service....how often do you legitimately get to do both at the same time?
I think Mercedes will soon be driving one.
I shot at a dog with a bean bag. It was trying to get into a house and was cleary "affected". I used a bean bag becaues the owners were there and I didn't want to splatter puffy's guts all over their minivan. Problem was that the beanbag killed the dog deader than shit. So much for being mister nice guy.
Why are the details so often overlooked when it comes to clarifying the who's & what's of a situation? This could all have been avoided by some simple cross-checking of information, not to mention, entering the proper & correct information in the database to begin with. The devil's in the details, but no ones gives a damn.
That's a new one. I'll add it to the list of things that kill dogs:
broken lightbulbs wrapped in bologna slices (sad true neighbor v. neighbor story)
Because she really was the person named in the warrant....
According to the article:
"A detective had substituted the innocent woman's information for a suspect with a lengthy police record."
When we are teaching felony warrant service at the academy, we teach them to quickly make an assesment whether the person matches the description, take the person into custody as quickly as possible and then worry about verifying the info. We don't want them playing 20 questions till after the restraints are on.
It seems that in this case, the warrant was for a specific person (but not the "right" person" and she was it. Wouldn't the deputy look like an ass if she really was the person wanted and he had her but decided to release her because she didn't have a tatoo or scar that was listed?
The issue is with the deputy defective who swore out the warrant in the first place, not the road deputy.
The issue is with the Detective not the patrol deputy.
Here it is almost standard practice to second guess identities before rolling up warrants because of the name game that is soooooo popular with the Hispanic and Asian criminals. Most of whom use their own families names when they get caught slipping.
I can only guess how many brothers and sisters of hoodlums have gone in because of their shitbird siblings.
And it only gets worse.
This is true.
When we request a warrant check and if the information on the warrant matches name, DOB, race, SSN etc we take them in. We don't wait for if something like scars, tatoos, etc are on there since the warrants in OK don't list crap like that.
But then again warrants are issued by judges, not defectives. Blame the judge.
Yeah right. When I run a name/DOB and they come back wanted how the hell am I supposed to know whether or not the person who swore out the warrant didn't screw it up? And what am I going to tell my sgt. when he asks me why I let the person go when there was paper out on them? "Uhhh, gee sarge, they said that they were the person listed, and name, DOB, height and hair/eye color all matched, but they didn't have a tatoo of an eagle on their right butt cheek that was listed.
Aa arrest warrant COMMANDS the officer to take the person named on it into custody. There is no room to do otherwise. The only time I have had a real problem with id'ing a person on a warrant was a case where a woman's sister, who looked very similar to her was using her info whenever she got into trouble. Since it was a "real" warrant and I did have the person named in it, I still had to take her into custody.
When I took her before the magistrate, I helped her explain the situation and she was PR'd. I still had to execute the warrant though and she still had to go to court for it.