An Arizona man is suing American Airlines after being thrown in jail for two weeks for a crime he didn’t commit because the airline wrongly named him as an airport shoplifter and gave his details to police.
Michael Lowe, who describes himself as a ‘professional outdoorsman and guide’ was flying from Dallas, Texas, to Reno, Nevada, on May 12, 2020, when a duty free store in the Dallas airport was burglarized by someone else who also had a ticket to his flight.
Surveillance footage from the airport showed the shoplifter boarding Flight #2248 after stealing from the store. As a result, police asked American Airlines to hand over a manifest of all of the passengers on the flight.
Instead of giving everyone’s names, the airline only gave police Lowe’s name, according to a lawsuit obtained by DailyMail.com.
An arrest warrant was issued but Lowe was unaware until the following July when, while at a friend’s party in New Mexico, someone called the cops on the group.
When officers arrived and took everyone’s names, the year-old arrest warrant out of Dallas pinged on the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database and he was arrested.
Michael Lowe, who describes himself as a ‘professional outdoorsman and guide’ was flying from Dallas, Texas, to Reno, Nevada, on May 12, 2020 (above) when a duty free store in the Dallas airport was burglarized by someone else who also had a ticket to his flight
The shoplifter is shown walking out of the duty free store on May 12 before boarding the flight
Lowe was then taken to the county jail in Tucumcari, New Mexico, and was held in a cell for 17 days before being released. Now, he is suing American Airlines for his ordeal.
In his lawsuit, his attorney Scott Palmer details how he was forced to strip naked, bend over and cough while being booked into custody.
He was then ‘placed in a quarantine pod, the facilities contempt for the health, safety and well-being of its inmates was immediately obvious, as not a single staff member nor inmate wore a face covering,’ the lawsuit says.
‘During his 17 days of incarceration in the quarantine pod, Mr. Lowe was housed with gang members, habitual offenders and inmates who were in for violent offenses.
‘To not attract attention to himself, Mr. Lowe avoided as much interaction with the other inmates as possible; as it was clear to him that he was at the bottom of the pecking order in the pod, Mr. Lowe only spoke when spoken to,’ the lawsuit reads.
The shoplifter then boarded the same flight as Lowe (shown). When cops asked American Airlines for a passenger manifest to track him down, the airline gave them Lowe’s name instead
The jail was so overcrowded that he was forced to sleep on the cold, concrete floor for many of the nights.
When he did get a bunk, he says his thin mattress had so many holes in it that it didn’t retain air.
Lowe’s attorneys say he had bruises on his hips until well after his release.
‘The constant noise created by the other inmates also prevented Mr. Lowe from sleeping. Some inmates would bang on the walls and yell for hours on end.
‘Another inmate, who was denied the medication needed to manage his psychiatric conditions, would scream random and incoherent church hymns throughout the night,’ the lawsuit says.
Lowe claims in his lawsuit that he was completely unaware of why he was being charged for the duration of his incarceration.
He says he went before magistrate eight days after being thrown in jail but that it wasn’t explained to him why he was there.
Finally on the 17th day, he says he was told unceremoniously that he could leave.
He then walked to a McDonald’s where he boarded a Greyhound bus back to Flagstaff, Arizona – journey that took two days. He then hired an attorney.
Before the case went back to court, a Dallas Fort Worth Police Department detective named as Detective Torres compared Lowe’s booking photo from the jail and compared it with the surveillance footage of the real shoplifter from the airport.
He then notified the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office that the charges were being dismissed.
Lowe is now seeking unspecified damages from American Airlines. He says he has been left scarred by the experience and struggles now to enjoy basic parts of life that he didn’t before.
American has not yet responded to the lawsuit.
Lowe’s attorney tells DailyMail.com he is seeking a ‘significant’ seven-figure settlement from the airline.
The true shoplifter was not named in the lawsuit and it’s unclear if has been arrested but the lawsuit states the man in the surveillance footage was identified as the culprit by police.
American Airlines has not yet responded to the lawsuit