Jawon Johnson, a Maryland teenager spent four days in jail in a case of mistaken identity last month, CBS Baltimore reports.
“I never thought I would be sitting in jail, especially for something I knew for sure I didn’t do,” Johnson said.
The West Virginia State University student claims he was pulled over on Nov. 23rd in Havre de Grace, Md., for making an illegal U-turn.
But the routine traffic stop ended with officers handcuffing and transporting him to a nearby detention center on a federal warrant.
Johnson repeatedly told them he wasn’t their guy. “I told them the picture wasn’t me,” he said. “They continued and insisted [that it was] in fact…me.”
Apparently, officers were looking for a man named Jawan Johnson, with an “a” instead of an “o.” That Johnson is wanted to testify as a witness in a burglary case. Police only realized their mix-up four days later.
All the while, Jawon languished inside a cell.
“I was in the cell 23 hours a day,” he added.
Johnson went before a federal court in Baltimore the following Tuesday, where authorities ran his fingerprints. A picture was sent to D.C. prosecutors before they discovered they had the wrong person.
Family and friends surrounded the court house that afternoon. After discovering he was to be released, they reportedly went inside to the sixth floor lockup and then realized that he’d already been freed and was waiting outside.
Still, the West Virginia wide receiver took the experience in jest. ”As long as I’m out, I’m perfectly fine,” he said. “I’m happy to see my family. I just want to enjoy the rest of my vacation at home.”
Johnson’s mother, however, wants action taken against the officer who arrested him.
“I just felt like he was thrown in shark-infested waters,” Juanita Johnson said.
Havre de Grace police didn’t respond to CBS’s interview requests, but they did tell media partner The Baltimore Sun that “the department honestly thought it had the right person. A comparison of a photo on the warrant and Jawon Johnson’s driver’s license seemed to match up.”
Johnson’s family is seeking legal action against the department.