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06 Aug 2015

More Grist for the Mill – Who Cares Who We Arrest?

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Solomon Jean Pierre (not his real name) had a hard time getting to the United States from his native
country of Haiti. Once here, Pierre was granted status. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security
issued him an employment authorization card which allowed Pierre to obtain work and a Florida
Driver License. Pierre took advantage of these opportunities. He obtained work, bought a house and
always carried his identification.

Pierre’s identification clearly identified him by name, picture and date of birth. All Pierre wanted
was to become a contributing and law abiding citizen of the United States.

Unfortunately for Pierre, law enforcement officials in the United States are often more concerned
with “making arrests” than making good cases. This lack of concern for the consequences of their
actions is demonstrated by what happened to Pierre.

Pierre was arrested by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office on 5/7/15 for the offenses of forgery and
uttering a forged instrument. The arrest was based upon arrest warrants issued out of Okeechobee
County. Although Pierre was arrested on these charges, it was obvious that his name did not match
the name on the arrest warrants.

Pierre attempted to demonstrate that he was not the same person by showing the arresting deputy his
Florida Driver License, Homeland Security issued employment authorization card and passport. The
deputy had ears, but could not hear. He had eyes, but could not see. His only purpose was to
effectuate felony arrests, which he did – at great cost to Pierre.

Pierre was arrested on 5/7/15. He retained Attorney Jeffrey H. Garland on 5/25/15. Attorney
Garland filed a motion to dismiss on 5/26/15, providing the same evidence of identity that the
arresting deputy had ignored.

Fortunately, the Okeechobee prosecutor was more discerning than the arresting deputy. The
prosecutor filed a “no information” on 5/27/15, which dropped all charges against Pierre.

Commentary

Law enforcement officials should be obliged to consider evidence that they are arresting the wrong
person. In this case, Pierre was put through the trauma and humiliation of being jailed. He was
forced to pay for a bail bondsman and retain an attorney. Truly, what happened to Pierre is not right.
Law enforcement officials should endeavor to avoid arresting the wrong person, when that person
is cooperative and presents multiple government-issued forms of identification which prove his
claims.

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