Name blamed for accidental arrest of Phoenix politician

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix politician was cuffed and tossed in a police car Tuesday afternoon but it turned out police got the wrong guy.

“[Police] took off my tie, took off my belt, put handcuffs on me and put me in the back of the squad car,” said Jeffrey Brown, candidate for the Phoenix City Council’s fourth district.  “It wasn’t the day I had planned… at all.”

Brown said he came out of a meeting in downtown Phoenix to find police around his car.

“They said, 'Are you the registered owner of this vehicle?’  I said, ‘Yeah.’  And the officer said, ‘You've got a warrant issued for you.’  I said, ‘What?’  And he said, ‘Put your hands behind your back,”’ Brown told 3TV, relaying the conversation between him and a police officer.

Brown spent about 15 minutes in the back of a cop car before officers realized they had the wrong guy.  Phoenix police said what happened is not unheard of, especially with common names.

“If I were out on the street and the officer ran the name Tommy Thompson and it came up with having a warrant, I can count on being detained while they determine if that's me.  That's very common,” explained Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department.

In Brown’s case, an automated license plate scanner tagged Brown’s car as having unpaid parking tickets.  When the cop ran Brown’s obviously very common name, a misdemeanor warrant for his arrest popped up.  Standard police procedure in that situation dictates the officer must detain anyone with a matching name until they can figure out if that person is really the person named in the warrant.

This time around, Jeffrey Brown the city council candidate was not Jeffrey Brown the wanted man.  Police quickly realized their mistake by checking with the courts and finding out the middle names didn’t match.

Brown said he has no ill feelings about the situation and appreciates the tough job police perform.

“No, no hard feelings.  Not at all,” Brown said.  “They apologized profusely, we shook hands, and that was it.”