ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. — An Allegan County man was detained for serious crimes he didn't commit after a warrant was incorrectly issued to him under the same name as the correct suspect.
Eric Wood, 41, of Hamilton was on his way to the grocery store Sunday evening when he was pulled over on M-40 by an Allegan County Sheriff's deputy.
Wood began recording the beginning of the interaction on his cell phone.
"I need a little more evidence than just a CSC warrant because..." Wood can be heard saying in the video.
"Ok. I promise I'll show it to you," the deputy interrupted. "Do me a favor and put your hands behind your back for me."
Once he was handcuffed, the deputy told him there was a warrant for his arrest for Criminal Sexual Conduct — First Degree Involving a Minor, a felony punishable by up to life in prison.
Wood responded to him saying, "I had a female acquaintance ask me the same thing. She literally texted me two days ago and said, is this you? I said, 'not a f-----g chance in hell.'"
"Ok. If it's not you, I'll get you on your way in just a minute, ok?" the deputy responded.
"I said that can't be possible. I don't do anything but go to work come home and take care of my kids," Wood told 13 ON YOUR SIDE.
The deputy's computer showed the suspect had a previous Grand Rapids address.
"I've never lived in Grand Rapids in my entire life."
It took 45 minutes to an hour for the deputy to eventually learn he had detained the wrong Eric Wood.
"They said somewhere between getting the report taken and submitting it to the prosecutor, my name got added to the warrant instead of the original suspect," said Wood.
The real 24-year-old suspect has the same first and last name, but a different middle name. A new warrant was requested for him Monday.
Court records show the warrant against this Eric Wood was cancelled, though his case remains open in the court's online public search database.
"It's not a very good charge to have for anybody let alone for somebody who doesn't deserve it."
The Chief Deputy District Court Clerk told 13 ON YOUR SIDE she doesn't know how the error happened. They entered the warrant they received and any questions should referred to the county prosecutor.
Allegan County Prosecuting Attorney Myrene Koch sent 13 ON YOUR SIDE a statement, saying: "There was a warrant incorrectly issued to Mr. Wood under the same first and last name as the correct suspect. Although Mr. Wood was briefly detained, he was never arrested, fingerprinted, or arraigned on the charges. As a result, his criminal record will not show those charges. As I explained to him, my office is working with the court to protect his privacy. We intend to do everything possible to ensure this error is corrected and sealed. As a result, I cannot further comment at this time."
Criminal Defense Attorney Sarissa Montague says this kind of mistake is rare but it can happen.
She says Wood's charges need to be removed from the local courts database.
"Because this man was not arrested, the case is not going to be in the Michigan State Police database which is generally what's used when a background check can be made," Montague said.
It's unknown how long it will take for those charges to be removed from his record, but Wood hopes it's soon as he plans to fight this mistaken case of identity all the way.
"Don't let somebody do this to you. You have to stand up to courthouses. They're terrifying to try to stand up against but obviously there's a lot of problems going on internally there that need to get taken care of, so if one story helps it then that's what needs to be done."
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