California woman jailed over mistaken identity: lawsuit

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California woman jailed over mistaken identity: lawsuit

A California woman spent 13 days in jail after being misidentified as a suspect with the same name sought in Texas, a federal lawsuit alleges.

Bethany K. Farber, a 30-year-old aesthetician from Agoura Hills, is suing the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD for arresting her at Los Angeles International Airport as she waited to board a flight to Mexico last April.

Farber was initially detained by Transportation Security Administration agents, who escorted her to a private room, where she asked why she was stopped. They told her she had a warrant out for her arrest in Texas, the lawsuit claims.

Farber said she had never been to Texas and definitely wasn’t wanted for committing any crimes there, but LAPD and LAX police still “proceeded to arrest her” in front of airport staff without confirming her identity or checking her driver’s license, according to the filing.

“LAPD then held [Farber] in jail for the next 13 days until April 26, 2021,” the lawsuit alleges.

Bethany K. Farber
Farber suffered “severe stress, anxiety, emotional injury and mental anguish” due to her arrest.
IVIE MCNEILL WYATT PURCELL & DIG

The LAPD mistook Farber for another woman also named Bethany Farber, who was wanted in Texas, although they only shared the common name, her suit claims.

“Plaintiff is a young woman with long, blonde hair, while the other woman is older with short brown hair,” the filing reads. “Furthermore, the warrant was for a woman in the State of Texas and Plaintiff has never been to the State of Texas.”

Farber announced her suit at a news conference in front of LAPD headquarters Tuesday. She was ultimately released from custody after attorneys showed cellphone data indicating she was in California on the day authorities alleged the Texas crime occurred, KTTV reported.

“It could happen to anyone,” Farber said Tuesday of her nightmarish ordeal.

Farber’s attorney, Rodney Biggs, said he thinks she was viewed as a flight risk since she was headed to Mexico, but claims authorities could’ve cleared her with just a few simple checks.

“The fact no one checked her middle name, her birth date,” Biggs said. “No information representing her person … they didn’t even check basic information that Bethany was not the other Bethany Farber.”

Farber’s attorney, Rodney Biggs
Farber’s attorney, Rodney Biggs, condemned the authorities’ oversights in jailing his client.
KTTV

Farber’s suit claims she was forced to share toilet paper and soap during her 13-day incarceration at Lynwood Women’s Jail, where she was so cold that she used hot food to warm herself. She also witnessed feces being thrown and smeared onto walls, the lawsuit alleges.

Farber suffered “severe stress, anxiety, emotional injury and mental anguish” due to her unjust arrest. Her 91-year-old grandmother also had a “stress-induced stroke” upon learning she was in jail and died shortly after Farber was released, the lawsuit alleges.

Los Angeles authorities ultimately held Farber at the jail for three more days after being informed by Texas courts that she was indeed the wrong person being sought, according to her lawsuit.

Bethany Farber mistaken identity
Farber’s Texas namesake is older, with shorter, darker hair.
IVIE MCNEILL WYATT PURCELL & DIG

The LAPD does not comment on pending litigation, a department spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.

Farber, meanwhile, told the newspaper she doesn’t want any other “law-abiding” citizens to go through what she endured.

“You know this is why we have our [constitutional] amendments in place to protect us,” she said in a statement. “We shouldn’t be fearing law enforcement.”

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