Lawsuit Claims Man with Same Name As Another Spent 15 Years Being Stopped, Detained, Abused By Police In Case of Mistaken Identity

A Chicago man has had several encounters with Chicago police over the past 15 years. Darren Cole says he’s been pulled over between 40 and 60 times since 2006. During those encounters Cole has been punched, berated, handcuffed, and rousted against the police station numerous times he says. During all those traffic stops, Cole has never been charged.

Now the 50-year-old has filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago. The suit claims all the police stops come from mistaken identity. A person with the same name and birthdate was wanted in Illinois and for a open arrest warrant that languished in the Chicago Police Department for nearly two decades. Cole pleaded with the department for years to fix the issue to ensure he wouldn’t be wrongfully stopped for another man’s warrant. However, police failed to do so until recently after Cole filed his federal civil rights complaint.

Court records show a judge finally ended the arrest warrant for Cole doppelganger in Marion County, Illinois.

“I think it is indicative of the Chicago Police Department’s blatant disregard for the safety and security of Black Chicagoans,” Daniel Massoglia one of Cole’s attorneys representing him in his lawsuit said.  “Just trying to get something done beforehand, and just radio silence.”

The suit is seeking monetary damages for several traffic stops he’s had to endure over the years. One of his demands in his complaint was for the Chicago Police Department to update its database

Cole told CBS Chicago he lost jobs, and the ordeal damaged his relationships with family members which caused him to consider suicide.

“I felt like I was treated like a dog,” Cole said. “I thought I lost it all, because everybody was telling me ain’t nothing they could do. You know what I’m saying? And so God just told me like this: ‘Don’t give up.’”

Cole repeatedly asked CPD to update their database to no avail. The Chicago Tribune reported on Cole’s federal complaint, which was filed March 25 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

According to the Tribune, the person for whom Cole was mistaken failed to make a court appearance for driving on a suspended license in Marion County — about 250 miles south of Chicago. Authorities issued an arrest warrant for that southern Illinois man, who had the same first and last name, date of birth and almost an identical license number as Cole.

“Whether it is 60 or 40 or 20 (stops), the reality is he is living under the constant threat of the police,” Sheila Bedi, the director of the Community Justice and Civil Rights Clinic at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law told the Tribune. According to court records show the real fugitive’s name is “Darren H. Cole,” a 50-year-old Decatur, Illinois man. The suspended license case was opened in 2002 and the warrant for his arrest was originally issued in March 2005. Police in Chicago didn’t begin stopping the wrong Cole over the open warrant until the spring of 2006, according to his lawsuit.

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