Fighting Back

Travis Jones Spent Three Months in a St. Louis Jail Due to Mistaken Identity; the Real Culprit Was Behind Bars the Whole Time

by Mike Riggs, Reason

St. Louis Police made several mistakes when they served an arrest warrant for Mark Crumble on Nov. 7, 2009, for suspicion of probation violation. The first mistake was ignoring Travis Jones when he said that he was not Mark Crumble. The second mistake was not checking with the St. Louis City Division of Corrections, where Crumble had been in custody since October.

Jones told the arresting officers repeatedly that they had the wrong guy. He said the same thing to the officers who booked and finger-printed him at the St. Louis City Police Department. And finally, he told the guards at the St. Louis City Workhouse, a medium security prison, where Travis Jones would serve three months—concurrent with Mark Crumble.

Jones’ pleas—which he made nearly every day—fell on deaf ears until January 6, 2010, when the St. Louis City Circuit Court ordered law enforcement to verify Jones’ identity. Two weeks later, his fingerprints were run through the system, and his claim of mistaken identity confirmed.

Last week, Jones filed suit in federal court against the St. Louis Sheriff’s Department, the St. Louis Department of Corrections, and the St. Louis Police Department, alleging that the agencies were negligent and deprived the men of their constitutional rights. Reason obtained a copy of the suit, titledJones v. Slay Jr. et al [PDF] from Jones’ attorney, Jason A. Charpentier of Growe Eisen Karlen. The suit names St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay who is a member of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, as well as the remaining members of the board; St. Louis Police Chief Daniel Isom, St. Louis Sheriff James W. Murphy, Commissioner of Corrections Dale Glass, and several others. It seeks damages for Jones, and “injunctive relief to challenge those customs and policies which result in the wrongful detention of misidentified parties.”

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