KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho --- A name mix up landed an Oak Harbor man in jail for a Kootenai County crime he did not commit.
Kootenai County prosecutors have acknowledged that they made a mistake in their office but that has not made David Michael Shipley of Oak Harbor Washington feel any better.
Shipley never thought he would see Oak Harbor Police and US Marshals walking around his neighborhood and searching for him.
“All of a sudden I heard my front gate click,” said Shipley.
Law enforcement arrived at his front door and they put him in handcuffs. His 16-year-old son was standing nearby watching.
“They put me down and cuffed me, and helped me back up and I was like what’s going on,” asked Shipley.
They were there to serve a warrant for his arrest.
“All my neighbors are coming out looking at me. I mean it’s just horrible,” said Shipley.
An officer told Shipley he was accused of not showing up to court for a burglary charge in Kootenai County, Idaho.
“I said I have not been to Kootenai County since 2012, 2013. And he said, well your name is on it. He asked me my date of birth and he said your date of birth is on it,” said Shipley.
The court paperwork was correct, but Kootenai County prosecutors had the wrong man. Shipley was taken to jail. He spent a few hours in jail before an associate posted his $5,000 bail. He was released but still confused about why he was arrested for a crime he knew he did not commit.
“The prosecutor’s office just said, contact a lawyer, contact a lawyer. They didn’t want anything to do with me,” said Shipley.
His family spent more than a week trying to clear his name, until Kootenai County prosecutors finally figured it out. The police report naming him simply said “Michael Shipley.”
Kootenai County prosecutor Barry McHugh said county staff used that information to draw up a court summons for David Michael Shipley. They did not realize this Mr. Shipley was not the Michael Shane Shipley of Spirit Lake they were after.
Michael Shane Shipley is accused of stealing a video game console and a video game worth about $240. The case against David Shipley was dismissed but the damage had already been done.
“Years of hard work, torn down,” said David Shipley.
David Shipley said his son is traumatized after seeing him in handcuffs, and his neighbors will not look at him the same.
“I’m not even comfortable living in my house now because everyone is talking about me and I just want to move now,” said Shipley.
McHugh said something like this happening is very rare and they are taking steps to make sure this does not happen again in Kootenai County.
Shipley said he wants more than an apology from Kootenai County. He said he is in the process of finding an attorney to take legal action.