Imagine getting a red light ticket in a city you've never been.
It happened to a man in Tacoma, and he tried to fight it, but was getting nowhere until he reached out to KING 5.
Viewers pointed out some key clues, leading police to change their minds, and now Rick Prichard of Tacoma is expected to be off the hook.
"This nightmare is finally coming to an end," said Prichard, who got a red light violation ticket from Phoenix, Arizona in February.
He said he had never even been there.
Prichard tried to prove his innocence. He sent the court in Phoenix a copy of his driver’s license and proof that he made purchases in Tacoma at Metropolitan Market and Safeway the day of the violation.
His evidence was rejected. A spokesperson from the Phoenix police department said detectives reviewed the case and believed the license plate was the same, the photo of the driver looked like Prichard, and they said they were confident in their red light camera system.
"Being accused of something you didn't do is frustrating,” said Prichard.
After KING 5 aired Prichard’s story, e-mails and the phone calls from viewers poured in, including from Joseph Phillip who saw the story online.
"Heck, I even reposted your story on my Facebook page and said, ‘Arizona, you got it wrong,’ you know?" Phillip said.
Phillip works at an auto shop in Glendale, Ariz. and said he noticed some key differences.
"I'm looking at it and I paused the video and I go that's not a 5 that's a 6," said Phillip.
Dozens of viewers noticed the licenses plates didn't match. Prichard’s license plate ends in 53, and the license plate in the photo looks like it ends in a 63. Also, Prichard's car is a Nissan. The car in the red light picture is Honda Ridgeline.
"I mean a Nissan and a Honda are totally different,” Phillip said. “I don't see how they could mess that up. I mean granted they're the same color, but the front ends are completed different."
Viewers also thought Rick looked nothing like a photo of the driver.
"Mr. Prichard kind of has a squared off jaw and whoever was driving that Honda has kind of pointed jaw. The facial features didn't even match," said Phillip.
The Phoenix Police Department said they reviewed the case again and would dismiss the citation.
“The vehicle information is provided by the private vendor,” a spokesperson from the Department wrote. “The violator’s vehicle more closely resembles a Honda Ridgeline than the Nissan as reported to us. Detectives will be contacting the court and Mr. Prichard will soon be notified of the dismissal.”
“It’s sad that it takes an outcry of people to try to fix something, you know,” Phillip said. “They should've did that in the first place.”
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