Will wrongful arrest be a future problem?
PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -
Did a Punta Gorda Police dispatcher let the wrong woman go to jail because of "revenge" because they had dated the same man? That dispatcher is caught on tape laughing when she heard the name of a woman who had dated the same man she had dated. The problem is, that warrant was really for another woman with the same name. Four In Your Corner Investigator Dave Culbreth obtained the audio tapes Wednesday and is back with more.
It was that dispatchers responsibility to make sure officers are taking the right person to jail. But the audio clearly reveals that dispatcher laughing as the wrong woman was about to be put behind bars. But, the problem with that is it's no laughing matter for brandy Lowe.
Calls into an emergency call center are recorded. Here's an excerpt of the initial recording of this case:
Dispatcher: "It comes back to a Brandy Lee Lowe"
Officer: "Yes, maam, and do you see the warrant that's attached with that?
Dispatcher: (laughs) "oh....ah....ha...yes"
Laughing on a recorded phone line into Punta Gorda's emergency call center is a dispatcher when she learned there was a warrant out for a Brandy Lowe. The problem is it was for a Brandy Lowe who lives in Leesburg, Florida, not the Brandy Lowe the Punta Gorda Police arrested. In addition to laughing, when asked during an internal investigation later, the dispatcher said it was 'Karma' because they had dated the same man. FOX4 is not revealing his name.
This is a portion of the audio recording of dispatcher Cindy Proud with an internal investigator:
Investigator: "Can you kinda explain to me why you think that you laughed?"
Dispatcher: "Her (Brandy) and (bleep bleep), at the time that we were supposed to be in a committed relationship had had phone conversations."
Investigator: "You realized it was the same person?
Dispatcher: "I thought it was".
"I think people should not underestimate the extent of the damage that's been done to Brandy," said Ft. Myers attorney Liz Kagan, who Lowe hired after she was wrongly arrested. "She worries about what people think about her".
Lowe had never been arrested, but now has. And, they say, that's a future problem for her. "For the rest of her life when she's asked the question, 'have you ever been arrested?', she has to answer, 'yes'," added Kagan. "Because, in fact, she was arrested. She was booked, fingerprinted, and mug shots were taken".
"That's correct," added Ft. Myers employment attorney Benjamin Yormak. "If you're asked, 'have you been arrested', you have to answer it truthfully otherwise you're lying on a job application to which can be automatic grounds for termination".
When Yormak heard the details of this case he said, "It certainly is going to affect her. Many states have laws that prohibit having the question, 'have you been arrested?'. You can ask if you've been convicted, but not arrested. Florida is not one of those states. It's fair game to ask. Employers do ask it and oftentimes it does disqualify applicants from employment."
I'm still pushing for answers from city hall and the police department. So far, they've only told me they did nothing wrong. That, even though policies have been changed since Lowe's arrest.