Show caption Farber says the incident left her with ‘severe stress, anxiety … and mental anguish’. Photograph: David Swanson/EPA California Woman sues LAPD for wrongful imprisonment in a case of mistaken identity Authorities imprisoned Bethany K Farber for 13 days before realizing they had the wrong suspect wanted for crimes in Texas Dani Anguiano in Los Angeles @dani_anguiano Wed 23 Feb 2022 20.42 GMT Share on Facebook
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A California woman is suing the Los Angeles police department after she was imprisoned for nearly two weeks before officers determined they had the wrong suspect. Authorities reportedly mistook Bethany K Farber for a woman with the same name who was wanted in Texas.
Farber said she was traveling to Mexico in April 2021 when Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at Los Angeles international airport detained her, eventually informing her that there was a warrant out for her arrest in Texas. The aesthetician was arrested and booked into jail, where she was held for 13 days without bail.
“I asked them repeatedly to double check and they completely blew me off,” Farber said. “They said, ‘Nope, Bethany Farber, we have you.’”
In a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Farber accused the city, airport police and the LAPD of violating her civil rights and falsely arresting and imprisoning her, intentionally inflicting emotional distress. Farber also alleged officials kept her in custody for three days after learning they had the wrong person in custody.
“This was an experience that no one should go through, especially a law abiding citizen,” Farber said in a statement.
Farber said she told TSA officials that she had never been to Texas, let alone committed a crime there and that she might have been the victim of identity theft, but they held her in a room without food or water for more than two hours. Airport police then arrested her and transferred her into the custody of LAPD, the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, police arrested her without checking her driver’s license, asking for any personally identifying information or using any other method to confirm her identity. Farber and the woman police were after “had nothing in common besides their name”, the complaint states, and don’t share a physical resemblance.
Her family, who hired lawyers in Texas and California to assist with the case, sent a photo and phone records to officials in Texas who promised to help secure Farber’s release.
She was released after 13 days but the incident left her with “severe stress, anxiety … and mental anguish”, according to the lawsuit. While in jail, Farber said she was forced to take extreme measures in order to keep warm, such as placing hot food underneath her clothes and “saw human feces thrown around and smeared across the walls”. The stress of the experience caused her grandmother to have a stroke, which led to her death, the lawsuit alleges.
Rodney Diggs, Farber’s attorney, said his client endured “things that she could never have imagined” because police “didn’t do the basics of their job to confirm the identity”.
The Los Angeles police department declined to comment on the lawsuit, stating it does not comment on pending litigation. The Los Angeles airport police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.