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They had the wrong name: CMPD officers detain school teacher because of mistaken identity

The department said Wednesday Charlotte officers were "acting in good faith" based on information when trying to find a different woman with a similar name.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nearly seven months after a Charlotte teacher came forward to demand accountability from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department after an incident of mistaken identity lead to a false arrest, the department now says the officers who initially arrested her acted within their own policy.

J. Horne first spoke about her experience to WCNC Charlotte's Briana Harper in June 2021. According to Horne, she had returned to her home in west Charlotte on June 14 when at least 10 police cars pulled up and surrounded her. Horne claimed an officer took aim at her, never asking for her license or registration until she was handcuffed and placed in a squad car.

“I thought I was going to die or they were going to put something in my car that wasn’t there," Horne said. "At that point, the damage was done and I was already traumatized." 

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CMPD released a series of 10 clips of body camera footage online, admitting they were looking for a different woman with a similar name for an assault with a deadly weapon. The department said a license plate reader associated Horne's car with their intended suspect because the system had been given the wrong name.

The correct suspect was taken into custody two days later, according to CMPD.

The department's statement, released alongside the video clips Wednesday, claims Horne was released within 15 minutes of being placed into handcuffs. The department credits her with cooperating with officers the entire time and assisting in their investigation. 

An internal CMPD investigation found the officers who detained Horne acted in accordance with department policy and "in good faith", the official statement explained Wednesday. CMPD said there's an ongoing investigation to see if any policies were violated in entering her name into their license plate reader system.

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WCNC Charlotte reviewed all 10 clips, which show different angles of Horne's false arrest. The first two clips did not reveal the actual arrest, but the third one did show Horne breathing loudly while handcuffed. An officer asks if she's okay, to which she responds, "Yeah". 

Three of the clips also confirmed two officers approached Horne with guns drawn, with one officer loudly commanding her to step out of her car with hands raised. Another clip shows officers talking to her grandmother, who is on the phone with Horne's mother and said the family doesn't know of the person CMPD was actually looking for. The officer who speaks with Horne's grandmother admits officers are also "confused."

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