Sheriff's deputy suspended for arresting wrong teenager

Feb. 25, 2014 at 3:25 PM
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GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla., Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A Florida sheriff's deputy was given a 10-day suspension Tuesday for arresting a teenager whose name was the same as a sexual battery suspect.

Cody Lee Williams, who was 17 when he was charged with sexual battery last year, spent 35 days in jail before the Clay County sheriff's department discovered the mistake, WJCT-TV, Jacksonville, reported. Cody Raymond Williams, also 17, is now charged with the crime.

Officials in Clay County say Johnny Hawkins -- the detective who led the investigation after a 12-year-old girl said she was sexually assaulted on Halloween in 2012 -- failed to follow procedures designed to prevent this kind of mistake, including showing a photo lineup to the victim.

Three officers were ordered to receive counseling for their part in the wrongful arrest, the (Jacksonville) Florida Times reported.

"As a result of your incompetence, an innocent man was arrested for an offense that he did not commit," Sheriff Rick Beseler said in a disciplinary letter to Hawkins telling him of the potential punishment.

Hawkins has been transferred to patrol duties.

Beseler sent Cody Lee Williams a letter of apology Tuesday, WJCT said.

The two teenagers attend the same school and even have at least one teacher in common.

Cody Lee Williams only realized what had gone wrong after a court appearance. He called his mother and she got in touch with Hawkins, who finally showed the victim photos of the two teens, and discovered the wrong one was in jail.

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