Man sues sheriff over repeated mistaken identity
A man whose
name was used by another man as an alias in the early 1990s has filed a
federal lawsuit against Collier County sheriff’s officials. The suit
accusing the officials of repeatedly arresting him on another man’s warrant.
Theodore William Wuschke, 42,
contends in a lawsuit against Sheriff Don Hunter and a deputy, that he lost a job because of his mistaken arrest. He also contends he
tried to point out to the deputy that he doesn’t have a tattoo but the man
who used the alias does, yet that didn’t stop the deputy from taking the
wrong man into custody.
On July 7, 2002,
Theodore William Wuschke was driving a vehicle owned by his employer
when he was pulled over on a routine traffic stop by Deputy Charles H.
Wuschke gave his
driver’s license to Smith, who ran it through the Sheriff’s Office’s
Smith then told
Wuschke there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest from 1993 for
probation violation under the name of Robert James Mickens. The warrant
showed the name “Theodore William Wuschke” as an alias of Mickens.
Michael R.N. McDonnell, told the Naples News, “I Don’t have any idea who this person
(Mickens) is — no idea. All I know is it’s a stolen identity somehow.”
Wuschke told the
deputy that he had been falsely arrested on the same outstanding warrant on
Oct. 1, 2001, based on the same inaccurate computerized information.
According to court
documents, Wuschke pointed out to the deputy that he didn’t have a
distinguishing tattoo on his ankle that was supposed to be part of the
physical description of Mickens.
Wuschke's father brought additional paperwork to the scene to identify his
In spite of the documents
provided by the father, Smith handcuffed Wuschke and took him into custody.
The deputy drove Wuschke to the Collier County jail, where, the lawsuit says, he
was again booked on the 1993 warrant.
McDonnell said he
wasn’t sure how long Wuschke was held in jail in 2002 or if he suffered any
injuries while being detained.
A spokeswoman for
the Sheriff’s Office, told the Naples News their office has no record of Wuschke’s 2002 arrest in
Hunter’s department should have corrected the mistake in the computer
database after Wuschke’s first arrest.
McDonnell filed the lawsuit against Hunter and Smith on July 7 in U.S.
District Court in Fort Myers.
Wuschke is seeking
compensatory damages and punitive damages and to have his litigation costs
and attorney’s fees paid by Hunter and Smith.
According to the lawsuit, Wuschke suffered pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of employment
and loss of capacity for enjoyment of life because of the arrest.