In December 2016, two Idaho State University football players were driving through Box Elder County, headed home to California on Christmas break when Utah police arrested and jailed them for allegedly robbing a bank. A crime they didn’t commit.
Atoa Fox and Nehemiah McFarlin filed a lawsuit last week alleging false arrest, illegal search and seizure and excessive force.
It all started when Fox and McFarlin, both age 18 at the time, were driving on the highway and ended up damaging their vehicle due to icy road conditions. They were waiting on the side of the road for help after they called AAA for roadside assistance.
An unidentified driver called Box Elder Sheriff’s Department to report that a white Camaro was on the of the road and two Black males were in the car.
Utah Highway Patrol answered the call by showing up to the scene with guns drawn. Upon approaching Fox and McFarlin, they ordered the two out of their car at gunpoint. According to statements by the young men, the officers never asked why they were on the side of the road.
Instead, they were accused of robbing a bank across the state line in Malad City. The friends even offered an alibi to prove their innocence at the scene. They were ignored, arrested and spent a day and a half behind bars before finally being released due to lack of evidence.
Apparently, they “fit the description of a suspect” who robbed the bank.
The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho had issued a statement that the suspect was described as a Black male, driving a four-door white Toyota passenger car with no window tinting, three missing hubcaps, no license plate and front-end damage.
The suspect was described as wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses.
The Camaro had two doors, a license plate, all of its hubcaps and tinted windows. The boys may have been in hoodies because after all, it’s winter in Idaho.
The picture of the suspect is listed below.
Dakota Shareef Walker, of Ogden, Utah, was sentenced for robbing five banks in 2016 and 2017.
It’s important to note the students look nothing like the suspect who is now in jail for the crimes.
Fox and McFarlin have filed lawsuits seeking $10,000 in damages over the false arrest. According to the suit, “The defendants ignored obvious and compelling information and evidence and participated in conjuring up information and evidence that was inaccurate, unreliable, untrustworthy and untrue in order to continue their arrest and seizure of McFarlin and Fox.”
The suit also alleges that the teens were threatened and treated with excessive force during the handcuffing and their incarceration.