A St. Ann, Missouri police chief apologized after officers injured and bloodied Joseph Swink, a 22-year-old college student who was mistakenly arrested on Thursday.
Swink, a junior studying accounting, was on his way home from an internship at Edward Jones when a vehicle that was being pursued by police clipped his car. The suspect’s car went into a ditch, and Swink spun out off the road and crashed. Officers responded to the crash, and witnessed Swink emerge from the car and begin to run away from it.
According to Fox 2 Now, the officers assumed Swink was the suspect and tackled him to the pavement in order to apprehend him. It was later determined that Swink was running from his car because it had begun filling with smoke. The young man suffered cuts and bruises to his face from the incident.
“We did put handcuffs on the wrong guy,” St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez acknowledged. “And I apologize for that. But they did it in good faith. It was literally an accident.”
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Jimenez said that his officers did not use excessive force when restraining Swink. “They didn’t Tase him. They didn’t use batons. They didn’t kick him in the face,” Jimenez said. “They definitely put him on the ground and were trying to get handcuffs on him while he’s squirming around. And he’s resisting arrest because he’s trying to tell the police that it’s not him.”
Jimenez said that the officers involved in the mistaken arrest would not be disciplined, calling the incident an “honest mistake.”
“I apologize for the mistaken identity,” he said. “I am sorry he got put into that situation because of the suspect.”
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Swink said he wants the department to cover his medical bills and put money toward a car to replace his 2001 Chevrolet Malibu, which was totaled in the accident.
“I don’t know what they were thinking,” he said. “I’m just shocked that all of this happened.”
Swink and his family said they think that race played a part in the mistaken arrest.
“There was nobody black on the scene, just a lot of white cops. I didn’t feel safe around them. I think they probably felt they could get away with it because I was and they can do this,” he said.
Swink is reportedly considering hiring an attorney and filing a civil suit.