A woman from Philadelphia was imprisoned for nearly a week after being wrongfully arrested in a mistaken identity case.
Julie Hudson, a Ph.D. student, was arrested after being mistaken for a suspect with the same name in a shoplifting incident in Texas.
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Chantal Da Silva wrote this.
A woman from Philadelphia went to a police station to find out why she appeared to have a police record despite having done nothing wrong — only to be arrested and held for nearly a week in a case of mistaken identity.
Julie Hudson, a 31-year-old Ph.D. student, told NBC Philadelphia that she went to the Philadelphia police station on Jan. 5 after discovering she appeared to have a criminal record while being denied jobs.
Her hopes of resolving the matter were dashed when she was arrested and detained.
Hudson, who is Black, would soon discover that she had been misidentified as a suspect with the same name.
According to NBC Philadelphia, a surveillance photo from an alleged shoplifting incident at a sports store in Webster, Texas, near Houston, in May of last year appeared similar to social media images of Hudson.
“When you know you didn’t do anything wrong,” Hudson told the news outlet, adding that she had never been to Texas.
“Everyone thinks you did something, that you’re a criminal, but you know that’s not who you are,” she explained.
Hudson’s family contacted law enforcement in both Texas and Philadelphia following her arrest in an attempt to clear her name.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Texas said it dismissed the case “within five minutes” after learning what happened, citing insufficient evidence.
“We accept charges based on the sworn evidence presented to us by law enforcement,” a Harris County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson told NBC Philadelphia. “Webster Police notified the court of the error on Tuesday. We dismissed the case in five minutes and immediately contacted Philadelphia Police to release Ms. Hudson from our custody.” The Harris County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to NBC News’ overnight request for comment.
“Ms. Hudson has been in custody in Philadelphia since 1/05/22 on FOJ charges based on an active arrest warrant out of Webster, Texas,” the Philadelphia Police Department said in a statement.
“After receiving a media inquiry, PPD became aware of the warrant being dismissed on 1/11/23 at approximately 5 PM,” it said. “At that time, we immediately requested that Ms. Hudson be released from custody and worked with the Philadelphia Department of Prisons to process her release in as expeditious a manner as possible. Furthermore, the PPD has launched an investigation into when communication from the issuing jurisdiction stating that charges had been dismissed.”
While Hudson was released on Wednesday night, almost a week after being imprisoned, her family told NBC Philadelphia that they were still working to have the error removed from her record.
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They also stated that they are considering legal action in relation to the incident, as Hudson continues to seek answers about what happened to her.
“I want to know what happened,” she explained. “I want to figure out what happened, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone else ever again.”
“Julie just so happened to have a family that was able to get the information together, if we needed to get the funds together,” her sister said.
“There are so many people out there who don’t have that. And that’s what struck a chord with Charon Hudson.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner apologized for Hudson’s ordeal in a statement issued Thursday.
“The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office learned of Julie Hudson’s situation last evening, thanks in part to media reports from Houston and Philadelphia,” Krasner wrote. “I am not aware of any direct efforts by Texas authorities to contact my office about Ms. Hudson’s misidentification, which resulted in her arrest by Philadelphia Police on January 6 based on a fugitive warrant.”
“Once the District Attorney’s Office independently learned that Webster Police had confirmed to local media that they had wrongfully sought Ms. Hudson for arrest, we mobilized quickly to ensure Ms. Hudson was released from custody as soon as possible,” he explained.
“Julie Hudson is a Philadelphia native with no criminal record who is pursuing a Ph.D. What happened to her should never have happened, and her family deserves a lot of credit for successfully advocating for her freedom in the media in Houston and Philadelphia,” he said.
Krasner stated that Philadelphia police followed standard protocol, but that changes in how information is shared between jurisdictions could help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, appearing to criticize the use of social media to incorrectly identify Hudson as the suspect.
“There’s nothing wrong with letting us read your affidavit of probable cause if someone wants us to send someone back, which we will do under the detainer,” he said. “At the very least, we could have picked up the phone and said, ‘You did what?!'” Please allow me to clarify. You made an identification using social media? ‘How else do you think this Philadelphian is stealing from stores in Texas?'”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenny praised the “rapid response and coordination between the Police Department, Courts, District Attorney’s Office, and Department of Prisons to ensure Julie Hudson was released as quickly and safely as possible” in a statement released by the district attorney’s office.
“We are dismayed by the ordeal that she and her family went through as a result of an erroneous warrant from another jurisdiction, and thankful that she is now home,” he said.