Wrong place, wrong time, wrong guy: Queens man arrested for crime he didn't commit
Does anyone still doubt that innocent people get arrested in New York? Meet Keith Falu, 23.
Falu was at a Queens deli on Oct. 27 when a police officer asked him to please step outside. He was searched, cuffed and arrested. He matched the description of a mugger who had grabbed a woman’s wallet seven blocks away.
“I’m 95 percent sure,” he heard the woman tell the cops. When one of the officers said they’d found money in Falu’s pocket, the last 5 percent seemed to evaporate: “That’s him.”Falu insisted he was innocent. He’d been at a hair salon. No way could he have robbed this woman. Among other discrepancies, he was wearing a dark-blue hoodie, not a light-blue one like the victim described. But he was driven to Central Booking and arraigned the next day, warned that he could spend four years behind bars.
Falu’s mother put private investigator Arthur Grix on the case. Grix found security camera footage that caught the real robber — in a light-blue hoodie. When Grix showed that image to the victim, she gasped, “Oh, no. How can I correct this?”That happened on Tuesday when Judge Lenora Gerald dismissed the case.
“I could have spent four years in prison,” said a shaken Falu. “I still have that thought in my head.”
The NYPD could not immediately be reached for comment. Such incidents, however, are inevitable, especially in cases involving eyewitness accounts, a form of identification fraught with errors, said Chris Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “It’s not a false arrest from the perspective of police. There are plenty of instances in which someone is properly arrested, even though they may not have committed the crime.”Emily Ngo contributed to this story.