ATLANTA — An Atlanta woman on Friday filed suit against a host of defendants, saying she was arrested by mistake and then spent 53 days in jail before finally being released.
Teresa Ann Culpepper seeks unspecified damages in her complaint against the city of Atlanta, Fulton County and members of the Atlanta Police Department, Fulton District Attorney's Office and Fulton Sheriff's Department.
Culpepper was arrested because she supposedly had the same first name as another woman wanted by authorities in an aggravated assault case, even though she provided officers with her driver's license that showed she did not have the same name and was not the same age as the real suspect, the lawsuit said. She also did not have a gold tooth that police were told the real suspect had, the suit said.
Culpepper was taken into custody Aug. 21 and stayed in jail until Oct. 12 --- five days after the victim in the aggravated assault case said in court that Culpepper was not his attacker.
The lawsuit alleges a number of missteps occurred at the time of Culpepper's initial arrest, during her incarceration in jail and when she was charged in the District Attorney's Office complaint room.
Culpepper, the suit said, "suffered economic damages, was deprived of her liberty for a substantial period of time, suffered much anxiety and distress over the separation from her family and friends and much discomfort and embarrassment."
Culpepper tried to settle the case before filing suit in Fulton Superior Court, said Marietta lawyer Ashleigh Merchant, who is representing Culpepper with her husband, John Merchant.
"We're trying to get justice for Teresa," Ashleigh Merchant said. "We also want to make some institutional changes in Fulton County so something like this doesn't happen again."
Spokespersons for APD and the sheriff's department declined immediate comment. Fulton County attorney David Ware did not return phone calls seeking comment.
An APD internal affairs investigation led to recommendations that three officers be suspended: Nicole Aguinaga for 30 days, Jaidon Codrington for 14 days and Justin Strom for 10 days. The officers are appealing the disciplinary recommendations.