Arizona Man Wrongfully Jailed For 17 Days In A Case Of Mistaken Identity

By Dani Medina

June 16, 2022

Photo: Getty Images

An Arizona man went to jail for 17 days without knowing why. Now, he's suing the airline that allegedly put him there.

In May 2020, police at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport were investigating a burglary at one of the airport's shops, according to FOX 4. Surveillance video showed the suspect boarded a flight to Reno, Nevada. But when investigators asked American Airlines for travel information for the passengers on that flight, the airline sent them the information for Michael Lowe, a man from Flagstaff, Arizona.

The information was enough to issue an arrest warrant for Lowe on charges of felony burglary and misdemeanor criminal mischief. Over a year later, Lowe was arrested on these warrants while in New Mexico. For 17 days, he was in a crowded jail cell and no one told him why he was there, Lowe's lawyer said.

"In twenty-five years of practicing, I’ve never seen anything this egregious. It’s hard to imagine anything more terrifying than being jailed for seventeen days without a clue as to why, or for how long you would be in there," Scott Palmer, one of Lowe's attorneys, told FOX.

Upon leaving jail, Lowe hired an attorney who was able to get the charges dropped. A detective was also able to compare Lowe's mugshot to the burglary suspect caught on camera and said the airline sent the wrong information. Lowe has since hit American Airlines with a lawsuit.

"American Airlines has an absolute duty to its passengers, and we hope to change American’s practice in regards to how it responds to search warrants so that no one else ever has live through Michael’s nightmare. In the absence of a change in procedures, any passenger is just one misstep away from having their lives turned upside down," Palmer said.

A spokesperson for American Airlines said the following in response to the lawsuit: "As required by law, American cooperates with and responds to court orders for information related to possible criminal activity, and that’s what we did in this instance when we were presented with a search warrant."

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