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July 06, 2012

Innocent woman jailed for 53 days, sues

ATLANTA (UPI) -- Officials said due to a police mix-up, an innocent Atlanta woman spent 53 days in jail on charges of battery and assault.

Teresa Culpepper called 911 to report that her boyfriend had stolen her truck on Aug. 21. Around the same time, Angelo Boyd called saying his girlfriend, Teresa Gilbert, had doused him with boiling hot water. The same officer was dispatched to two scenes. However, he reported to the boarding house where Culpepper lived and arrested her for assaulting Boyd, a man she had never met, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

When she appeared in court Oct. 6 to hear her indictment and enter a plea, Boyd was recorded in the court transcript saying, "No, that's not her." The judge apologized and dismissed the felony aggravated battery charge that day, but not the misdemeanor assault charge. Culpepper was to remain in jail until all charges against her were dropped, until Oct. 12.

When Culpepper left jail, she found she was evicted, her belongings stolen, her truck sold for spare parts and she owed the federal government $1,000 for a disability check she received while in jail. The law does not allow for anyone in jail to receive disability, even if they have yet to be convicted.

"Everything was gone," she said.

The Journal-Constitution reported Culpepper has filed a lawsuit against the Atlanta Police Department.

Gilbert was indicted and sentenced to five years probation last month after pleading guilty to aggravated assault.

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