“At the time of Mr. García’s arrest, and when he was before the court for his extradition hearing, he failed to inform anyone that this was a case of mistaken identity,” the police department said in a statement.
But García claims he protested throughout the process, explaining that he was the wrong guy and displaying a copy of a court order signed by a Miami-Dade judge after his 2008 extradition certifying that he was not the man named on the warrant.
Law enforcement authorities in Texas said that García had presented them with a “letter” declaring his innocence, but that the Miami-Dade Police Department confirmed they wanted him extradited.
The State Attorney’s Office for Miami-Dade County said they have rigorous policies in place to avoid charging the wrong people in cases of identity theft or mistaken identity.
“If there is ever some confusion about some individual’s identity or identification, my policy is that it be resolved quickly and completely,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, state attorney for Miami-Dade County, said in a statement. “If an innocent person is charged with a crime, a guilty person walks free. Neither situation should ever happen.”
Back to Texas
Just after midnight on Feb. 22, García was booked in Miami for the outstanding warrant linked to the 1983 kidnapping. He was later brought before a judge for a bond hearing. Video of the hearing shows a despondent García in flip-flops and jeans pulling a folded piece of paper from the breast pocket of a maroon button-down shirt: the court order from his first extradition in 2008.
After some befuddled conversation between the judge and García’s appointed attorney, the judge ordered García released.
Officers with the Miami-Dade Police Department then took Mr. García to a bus station, bought him a fast food cheeseburger and a bus ticket to Harlingen, Texas, and gave him $100 in cash. The police said García’s extradition cost Miami-Dade County $1,008.67.
An alert has now been placed on García’s name in local and national law enforcement databases indicating that he is not the man wanted for the 1983 kidnapping, the police said.
As for José García of Miami, he’s still on the lam.