Police arrest innocent man who shares name with accused murderer

Posted at 2:10 AM, Dec 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-24 22:46:52-05

WESTLAND, MI (WXYZ/CNN) – Police in Michigan arrested a man accused of murdering his mother – but only after they arrested an innocent man with the same name.

Justin Paul, 20, got a call that Westland Police wanted to speak to him, but he says he had no idea why.

"Seven cop cars come, and they get out and they have their guns. They’re kind of ducking behind my car, and they’re like, ‘Are you Justin?’ And I was like, ‘Yes.’ And they were like, ‘Put your hands up. Put your hands up,’” he said. "I had no idea what was going on. I just wanted to comply. I knew something wasn’t right."

It turns out the 20-year-old was mistaken for another Justin Paul, this one 22 years old, who lives in the same area. The 22-year-old Paul is accused of brutally stabbing his mother to death Wednesday morning.

The wrong Paul was arrested but quickly released, and police issued an apology and explanation.

"We do apologize. It wasn't completely correct what we did, for sure,” Sgt. Rob Wilkie said.

Wilkie says mistakes were made, and the department has no problem admitting fault. They simply followed a lead, but it led them to the wrong Justin Paul.

But Wilkie says the wrongly confronted man did the right thing when faced with a large police presence.

"This is a great moral lesson of not resisting until figuring out what's going on later. He complied, and everything went smoothly. We quickly figured out that we had made an error, and we quickly resolved it,” Wilkie said.

The 20-year-old Paul says he still trusts police, even after this mistake, but he doesn’t want anyone else to go through what he did. He would like officers to use extra caution to prevent this mix-up from happening again.

The accused killer, 22-year-old Paul, was arrested after the case of mistaken identity. He was arraigned on murder charges Friday.

Copyright 2017 WXYZ, Westland Police Department via CNN. All rights reserved.

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