MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — What’s in a name?
For a Martin County man, enough for him to be arrested twice and spend days in jail for someone else’s alleged crime.
Now, David Sosa is suing the Martin County Sheriff’s Office to make sure it does not happen again.
According to the lawsuit, there are more than 1,000 people named David Sosa living in the United States.
The lawsuit details some of those people named David Sosa to include a well-known artist, a college philosophy professor in Texas, a financial expert witness in San Francisco, and a lawyer in New York. The attorneys on the case also say there are more than 800 professional listings on the social media site, LinkedIn, for people named David Sosa.
The David Sosa who lives in Stuart has learned the hard way there is another David Sosa who is wanted in Houston, Texas for drug-related crimes.
“This guy’s older than I am. He’s shorter than I am. He’s a career criminal. He’s got tattoos that I don’t possess,” Sosa said.
The local David Sosa says he also used to live in Texas. While living there over decades, he said he was detained following several traffic stops because of his name. However, he said fingerprinting always cleared him.
“Every time they would ask me to step out of the vehicle, I would immediately say' you found a warrant, didn’t you?” Sosa explained.
When he moved to Martin County, he said he was pulled over in 2014.
“[The deputy] came back saying 'Texas is looking for you'. And I was like 'Yeah, I know what this is about,” Sosa said.
Sosa said he was taken to the sheriff’s office, and after a couple of hours, he was released because his fingerprints cleared his name.
Years later in 2018, he was pulled over for a minor traffic citation. Again, the deputy questioned the active warrant out of Texas.
“In the back of my mind, I’m like it’s the second time. Maybe there’s a footnote saying we arrested this guy before for this warrant that isn’t his,” Sosa said.
Instead, he was booked in jail.
“I was like this happened a couple of years ago. I don’t understand what’s going on. And [a jail employee] says I have no record of you ever being here,” Sosa said. “Their bookkeeping practices are so sloppy that they didn’t see that I had been there before? They took my picture, they took my fingerprints, they called Texas," Sosa said.
Sosa was left behind bars for three days before he was released, cleared again by his fingerprints.
The lawsuit details that Sosa lives in fear of being arrested again for crimes allegedly committed by a different man.
“Every time I see a cop behind me, that thought goes through my head,” Sosa said.
The lawsuit recommends the Martin County Sheriff’s Office create a file on David Sosa or a file for all wrongfully detained individuals due to misidentification due to warrants. It suggests 'this could be an electronic file or paper file. The deputies could receive a memorandum that explains the simple system to check so as not to detain, arrest and/or jail the wrong person.’
In the lawsuit, Sosa also hopes to order the Martin County Sheriff’s Office to implement policies and train employees in looking at identifying information in warrants to verify whether the warrant is for the right person before detaining or arresting anyone.
The Martin County Sheriff’s Office can not comment on the pending litigation or about the lack of records related to Sosa’s 2014 detainment.