Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, protests have erupted around the nation in response to police brutality, exposing longstanding tension and mistrust between officers of the law and the communities they serve.
While the police have a duty to protect and serve, for many citizens – particularly people of color – interactions with law enforcement are often characterized by fear and suspicion. In most cases, police don't intentionally target or accuse individuals of crimes they did not commit, but when it does happen, the fallout can be devastating.
Jailed for a Year After Wrongful Arrest
One 31-year-old man from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, knows firsthand what it's like to be unfairly accused. Daylan McLee filed a lawsuit for wrongful arrest in 2018 after he spent a year in jail related to a brawl that occurred outside a bar in 2016. When McLee arrived at the bar to drive his sister home, a fight broke out, and he disarmed a man in the parking lot who had a gun and quickly tossed the weapon aside.
But Pennsylvania State Police troopers who responded to the scene claimed McLee, a Black man with visible tattoos, had pointed the weapon at police officers, who fired two shots at McLee as he ran. McLee was acquitted of the charges after a jury reviewed security footage, which supported McLee's version of events.
In a separate incident, McLee was charged with fleeing and resisting arrest after officers in plainclothes approached a front-porch gathering with their guns drawn and did not announce they were police. During that arrest, McLee said an officer's use of excessive force resulted in McLee's face being kicked through a fence, giving him a split lip. This altercation was caught on a security camera, and McLee plans to dispute the charges.
Before You Fight, Know Your Rights
McLee has consulted with attorneys throughout each of his ordeals, which has helped him know and understand his rights and fight his charges in court. Despite his unfortunate interactions with police, McLee stressed forgiveness after he was praised last month for saving an officer from a burning car following a crash outside his apartment, stating, “There is value in every human life.”
People can be falsely accused of a crime for many reasons, including mistaken identity, incorrect recollections, malicious false accusations, official misconduct, and misleading evidence. If you are unfairly accused, the most important things to do are to stay silent and contact a knowledgeable attorney right away.
Innocence doesn't preclude the need for an advisor – in fact, there may be a greater need for an attorney in these cases, since clearing charges may require extensive pre-trial investigations, as well as meetings with prosecutors and potentially antagonistic accusers or witnesses.
If you have been unfairly accused of a crime you did not commit, call the Lento Law Firm right away at 888-535-3686. We can help you understand your rights and help you determine what you should do next.