(NewsNation) — An Arizona man says he spent 17 days in jail for a crime he did not commit after American Airlines erroneously reported him to the police.
Michael Lowe said in a lawsuit that the airline mistook him for a suspect who broke into a duty-free shop at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and then boarded a flight to Reno, Nevada, according to the New York Times. Lowe had boarded the same flight to visit a friend, the newspaper said.
But the lawsuit says airport police obtained two arrest warrants for Lowe, based on American’s identification.
Lowe was jailed at the Quay County Detention Center in rural New Mexico, where the conditions were “just horrible,” his lawyer, Scott Palmer, said on NewsNation’s “Morning in America.”
“He describes having to sleep on the floor one night on a steel cot that injured his hips and he was so uncomfortable. … He tells us that he got maybe two hours a night of sleep. The showers were horrific. The conditions were ultimately just horrible. The smell of urine — it just was never-ending for 17 days,” Palmer said. “This was the nightmare that he was living every day.”
Lowe was ultimately released from the New Mexico jail, which was when he started putting the pieces together. After making “multiple phone calls” to a detective in Texas, whom Lowe begged to check the booking photo, police saw he was not the suspect.
Palmer said he’s not sure why American Airlines pegged Lowe as the person who broke into the shop.
“I’m not clear as to what the methodology they use to find, track and name Michael Lowe as the sole and only suspect,” Palmer said, “All I know is that they targeted him.”
Palmer noted that security footage of the suspect and a selfie Lowe sent to his girlfriend before his flight show the two don’t look alike.
“They’re both white men. That’s about the only similarity,” he said.
Palmer said he’s spoken to American over the past several months, and there has been no apology from them.
“Their evaluation of this case and my evaluation are completely on different ends of the spectrum. So that’s why we filed the suit,” Palmer said.
American Airlines responded to NewsNation with the following comment.
“As required by law, American cooperates with and responds to court orders for information related to possible criminal activity, and that’s what we did in this instance when we were presented with a search warrant.“