Police wrongly arrested and jailed an Ohio mother earlier this month, acting on a warrant intended for a drug-trafficking suspect who shared the same name. But before law enforcement realized the mistake, the innocent woman had spent a week behind bars, lost her job and temporarily lost custody of her children in the meantime.
Authorities arrested Ashley Foster, 26, in a Target parking lot April 11, after a Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy ran her plates as part of a routine patrol.
“I told him my name was Ashley, he asked me to step out of the car,” the mother later recalled to WXIX-TV. “They said, ‘Do you know you have a warrant out for your arrest?’ And I said, ‘No! What did I do?’ He said it was for tracking heroin, and I broke down in the parking lot, on the ground crying.”
However, the deputy was relying on information from Brown County, where the Aberdeen Police Department had issued the warrant intended for a suspect named Ashley Foster on April 1. Problem was, nearly all of the identifying documentation in the system matched the wrong woman.
“They showed me the computer, everything they had in front of them, it was my ID, my picture, my birthday, my social security number, but it was not my address,” Foster confirmed. “I said that I didn’t do anything and that they had the wrong person.”
Nonetheless, Foster was cuffed and her two sons — who were in the vehicle — were taken into custody by child protective services.
“My youngest is 8 weeks old yesterday, they wouldn’t let me feed him, wouldn’t let me change his diaper. I listened to him scream,” she told WXIX.
Foster spent the next five days in the Hamilton County Justice Center before being transferred to the jail in Brown County to spend another two days behind bars. She was eventually interviewed by Aberdeen Police Chief David Benjamin, who realized the wrong Ashley Foster was in custody.
All charges were dropped and she was released upon the discovery, but there was no apology from the chief, according to Foster.
“He just said, ‘Thank you for your time,'” she told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Benjamin told WXIX that the investigation is ongoing and that’s all he can say at this time.
Once Foster was released from jail, she returned to her vehicle in the Target parking lot and found it with a flat tire. According to Reason, she lost her job because she missed work due to her incarceration, and only regained custody of her children after Clermont County Job & Family Services “interviewed her to determine her competency as a mother and inspected her home.”
WXIX reported that Foster planned to meet with an attorney and “wants everyone to keep in mind that never in her wildest nightmare could she have imagined this happening to her, and it could, in theory, happen to you as well.”