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Man sues over mistaken identity detention

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A restaurant owner from Illinois filed a federal lawsuit this week after a case of mistaken identity led to a three-day detention in a Lake County jail in April 2007.

Jose G. Gonzalez is suing Lake County, Ind., the county board of commissioners, Sheriff Roy Dominguez, jail warden Bennie Freeman, and various other unknown police officers and jail employees for his unlawful detention. Gonzalez, an Illinois resident, was driving in Lake County when he was pulled over for a traffic violation. After running his name, the police officer discovered a "hit" for another Jose Gonzalez with the same birthday who was wanted in Georgia. Despite his claims he wasn't the same person they wanted and the fact the Illinois Gonzalez looked nothing like the photograph of the wanted man, police took Gonzalez to the Lake County jail.

While in jail, Gonzalez's father tried to get him released, but was told by jail officials that he couldn't do anything and that Gonzalez was going to be extradited to Georgia in a few weeks. After three days in jail, Gonzalez was released without access to his car, cell phone, wallet, credit cards, or money. He wasn't allowed to use a phone and had to walk nearly 10 miles to his restaurant in Lake County. Nearly a month later, Gonzalez was detained again by police after running a check on his car and the same "hit" coming up about the Georgia Gonzalez.

In Jose Guadalupe Gonzalez v. Lake County, Ind., et al., No. 2:09-CV-091, Gonzalez is suing for multiple federal and state constitutional violations, including false imprisonment, detention and confinement, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and unlawful discrimination. He's asking for a jury trial and $300,000 in actual, general, and compensatory damages, including lost income for his business while he was in jail, and punitive damages of $1 million.

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  1. He did not have an "unlicensed handgun" in his pocket. Firearms are not licensed in Indiana. He apparently possessed a handgun without a license to carry, but it's not the handgun that is licensed (or registered).

  2. Once again, Indiana's legislature proves how friendly it is to monopolies. This latest bill by Hershman demonstrates the lengths Indiana's representatives are willing to go to put big business's (especially utilities') interests above those of everyday working people. Maassal argues that if the technology (solar) is so good, it will be able to compete on its own. Too bad he doesn't feel the same way about the industries he represents. Instead, he wants to cut the small credit consumers get for using solar in order to "add a 'level of certainty'" to his industry. I haven't heard of or seen such a blatant money-grab by an industry since the days when our federal, state, and local governments were run by the railroad. Senator Hershman's constituents should remember this bill the next time he runs for office, and they should penalize him accordingly.

  3. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  4. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  5. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

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