Trying to clear one's name after being arrested by mistake

Thursday, July 24th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A woman's battle to clear her name after being arrested by mistake. Her journey of injustice has taken three years and is a case of the little gal being knocked around by the system.

News on Six crime reporter Lori Fullbright has the story.

Tina Pollard's maiden name was Tina Michelle Lewis. Little did she know there were 23 other Tina Michelle Lewis' in Tulsa and not all of them were nice, so when a warrant came out with that name and Tina's address, she was handcuffed at her home and taken to jail. "My parents were there, my in laws were there, my neighbors were out and there were six cop cars in front of my house."

The warrant said Tina had embezzled money from a bank, and then skipped out on her court date, she tried to tell them it wasn't her, but no one listened. She was searched, given a urine and blood test and left in the holding tank for eight hours with drunks and violent offenders who scared her to death. "In my mind, I was saying don't talk to me. I'm not like you, I shouldn't be here."

They finally figured out the Tina Lewis they were looking for was black, 10 years older and a foot taller and let this Tina go. She sued and endured three years of legal wrangling to have her lawsuit thrown out this week. The reason is because Oklahoma passed a law before Y2K that said counties couldn’t be held liable for computer mistakes and because a court clerk entered the wrong information from the computer to the warrant, Tina is out of luck.

Wayne Copeland, attorney: "The worst part of it is, she'll have a ?%$#@ record on the national crime information computer system until she dies." So, she was wrongly arrested, isn't allowed to sue and will have a record on the nation's NCIC system and yet, that's not all.

The judge also said Tina must pay $569 to cover the state's legal fees. "How fair is that, what kind of justice? There's no justice in this world at all." Tina's attorney plans to ask the judge to reconsider making her pay the court costs.

In the meantime, Tina's had a credit card canceled and was hassled when applying for a license to open her own mortgage company because her record says she's been arrested for embezzling money from a bank, even though she never did it.