(TARRANT COUNTY, Texas) — An Arizona man sued American Airlines this week after, he claims, the carrier wrongfully identified him as a suspect in an airport burglary — leading to his arrest and what he called a harrowing 17-day stint in jail.
Michael Lowe filed his lawsuit on Monday in Tarrant County, Texas, after he says he was arrested last July for a crime he didn’t commit.
According to the lawsuit, a duty-free shop at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Tarrant County was burglarized in May 2020. Surveillance footage of the incident showed the culprit was a passenger of American flight 2248, and investigators obtained a search warrant ordering the airline to produce “any and all recorded travel data for all individuals” on that flight, the suit stated.
Instead, Lowe said, American only produced identification for one passenger — him.
“That was a hasty decision on behalf of American Airlines to offer up one suspect and one suspect only, and without that we wouldn’t be talking. This wouldn’t have happened,” Lowe’s attorney, Scott Palmer, told ABC News in a phone interview.
Palmer said his client looks nothing like the man suspected of committing the airport burglary.
“I am faulting American Airlines for outing one of their own passengers,” he said.
Lowe was arrested more than a year after the incident while he was in New Mexico — where he was held in jail for more than two weeks.
“The terror Mr. Lowe experienced while imprisoned in Quay County for the next 17 days was existential,” his lawsuit stated. He was made to sleep on the concrete floor and the jail did not have proper COVID-19 protocols, according to the complaint.
He was subsequently released with no explanation, his suit said.
“He shouldn’t have been in jail. He didn’t commit a crime,” Palmer said.
Lowe was subjected to a strip search while he was detained and was told very little information about why he was behind bars, according to his lawsuit.
“It could’ve been you or me,” Palmer said. “I’ve never seen a fact pattern like this.”
The suit further alleges that the Dallas-Fort Worth airport police detective who was handling the case initially expressed “disappointment” that Lowe was released and had missed a court appearance in Texas the same morning — because, according to the suit, the detective still mistakenly thought he was the suspect.
The detective eventually compared Lowe’s mug shot to the suspect surveillance photo from the burglary and realized it was not him, according to the suit.
Palmer told ABC News that, to his knowledge, the actual suspect has still not been caught.
Dallas-Fort Worth airport police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
American Airlines said it was “reviewing the lawsuit.”
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