American Airlines Traveler Wrongly Jailed For 17 Days For Crime He Didn’t Commit

The Tradition

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This incident initially dates back to May 2020, when Michael Lowe was connecting in Dallas (DFW) while enroute from Flagstaff (FLG) to Reno (RNO). At the same time he was at the airport, a traveler was accused of shoplifting at a store at the airport.

Police had determined the man was flying to Reno, the same flight Lowe was traveling on. The crime was reported to airport police, and with the knowledge that this traveler was flying to Reno, American Airlines was asked to send over the footage from the gate, and a manifest with everyone who boarded the flight.

According to the lawsuit, American “departed from the established procedures,” and only sent the police a single passenger’s information — that of Lowe.

This is despite the fact that Lowe looked nothing like the shoplifter. Lowe had two-inch long gray hair and wore a mask, while the surveillance footage showed that a man with a buzz cut wearing no mask was the one was carrying several items that were believed to be stolen.

Based on the information provided by American Airlines, two arrest warrants were issued for Lowe — one for felony burglary and one for criminal mischief.

14 months after the incident in question, Lowe was on vacation in Tucumcari, New Mexico, visiting friends. He was at a July 4th party, and someone called the police regarding a disturbance unrelated to Lowe. When police got there, everyone’s information was taken. When officers pulled up Lowe’s information, they saw the outstanding warrants, and he was arrested… for a crime he had never even heard of.

Lowe then spent 17 days in jail before being released, and he didn’t even find out what he was accused of until after he got released.

In the lawsuit, Lowe details his excruciating 17 days in jail:

  • Lowe was ordered to strip naked and forced to bend over and cough as he was searched for contraband
  • He was put in the general prison population quarantine pod, alongside people accused of violent crimes
  • Lowe feared for his safety, as New Mexico had the 10th highest death rate from COVID-19 in the country, and he was at one of the three jails in the country where officers refused to be tested for COVID-19
  • Lowe had to sleep on the concrete floor, but did not get much rest due to his “constant state of fear of confrontation, physical abuse, or sexual victimization”
  • A young man punched him in the face three times, and a streak of blood remained on the wall for days
  • After eight days in jail, Lowe was taken to a local judge; he still received no information about why he was there, but the judge gave him the option of waiving extradition or waiting for Texas authorities to pick him up
  • After 17 days, Lowe was told he would be released; he was allowed to leave jail, but still wasn’t given any information about why he was there in the first place
  • Lowe walked miles to McDonald’s, where he waited at a bus stop; he tried to clean himself in the bathroom, but was kicked out by staff
  • He then took a 12-hour bus ride to Flagstaff, but the bus broke down, so it took him two full days to make it back to Flagstaff
  • Upon returning home he was informed that another warrant was issued for him because he had not appeared in court that same morning
  • The detectives still wouldn’t tell Lowe what he was accused of, other than that American Airlines provided the information that lead to his arrest
  • At this point Lowe retained a lawyer, and after the lawyer asked DFW airport police to compare photos of Lowe to the surveillance footage, all charges were dismissed
Not only did Lowe suffer trauma, but he also suffered financially. He could not work while in jail, including a two-week tour of Alaska he had planned with five people, each of whom had paid him $6,000. The trip had to be canceled, so he had to refund them. Furthermore, the arrest warrants remained active even weeks after he was released, so he could not work during that period.

 

mustang_hawk

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This guy needs to get PAID!!!!!!!!
I agree, we just need to come up with a number that persons who spend 10 or 20 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, some on death row. How much per year of their lives and pro rate this guy for his 17 days.
 
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TC Nole OX

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Mar 29, 2002
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Sounds like typical quality police work…BAU. A multitude of errors by officers for which there will be zero accountability.
 
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NoleATL

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I hope he gets well paid, and the arrests are expunged from every database they got entered. It's not just what happened, but stuff like this can taint your future.
Yep... Sounds like he wasn't well off financially prior to the incident... hopefully he will be when the suit is over.
 
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The Tradition

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Yep... Sounds like he wasn't well off financially prior to the incident... hopefully he will be when the suit is over.

He was flying to Reno and couldn't work once his employer found out there was a warrant for his arrest.

And he didn't already get fired for being AWOL for 17 days.

That doesn't sound like a poor guy, too me.
 

NoleATL

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He was flying to Reno and couldn't work once his employer found out there was a warrant for his arrest.

And he didn't already get fired for being AWOL for 17 days.

That doesn't sound like a poor guy, too me.
If he wasn't able to get to an attorney, or his family and friends couldn't get to him, and this is what it seems like... there needs to be a heck of a pay day. But I'm sure the usual suspects will come to LEOs defense.
 

NoleATL

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  • Lowe walked miles to McDonald’s, where he waited at a bus stop; he tried to clean himself in the bathroom, but was kicked out by staff
  • He then took a 12-hour bus ride to Flagstaff, but the bus broke down, so it took him two full days to make it back to Flagstaff
This is what makes me think he didn't have money... were his friends or family unable to help?
 

SeaPA

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Dec 17, 2002
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He was flying to Reno and couldn't work once his employer found out there was a warrant for his arrest.

And he didn't already get fired for being AWOL for 17 days.

That doesn't sound like a poor guy, too me.

Where do you see anything about not getting fired? Article said he had to cancel a trip for which 5 people were going to pay him $6k apiece; I interpret that as he is some type if guide (tour, hunting, fishing). If so he is likely self-employed, so probably is not gonna fire himself.
 

TheCainer

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Sep 23, 2003
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The real crime here seems to be that he had to make connections in Dallas for a trip from Flagstaff to Reno. That would be like making connections in Minneapolis for a flight from Atlanta to Orlando.

Hope he got all of his actual flyer miles.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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Excuse me but how is it legal in this country to arrest and jail someone without ever telling them the charges against them?

Arn't they supposed to be arraigned within 72 hours? But yet he spent 8 days in jail before seeing a judge?

Even if this guy was guilty it seems like a long list of constitutional rights were violated.
 

beanerhawk

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Excuse me but how is it legal in this country to arrest and jail someone without ever telling them the charges against them?

Arn't they supposed to be arraigned within 72 hours? But yet he spent 8 days in jail before seeing a judge?

Even if this guy was guilty it seems like a long list of constitutional rights were violated.
Which leads me to believe his story is some what bullshit. You were locked up for 17 days in the US and no one told you why and you didn't talk with a lawyer that whole time???

yeah-ok.gif
 
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Hoosierhawkeye

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Which leads me to believe his story is some what bullshit. You were locked up for 17 days in the US and no one told you why and you didn't talk with a lawyer that whole time???

yeah-ok.gif

Well considering we know they locked him up without even looking at the freaking picture I'm not entirely sure I don't believe him.
 

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