Black Woman Wrongfully Jailed For Shoplifting In A Place She'd Never Been

Photo: Getty Images

A Black woman was wrongfully arrested in Philadelphia and spent nearly a week in jail after police in Texas, a place she had never been, mistook her for a shoplifter caught on surveillance video at a local sporting goods store.

According to NBC News, Julie Hudson, 31, was arrested earlier this month after she went to a Philadelphia police station to find out why background checks requested by potential employers were inaccurately reporting that she had a criminal record.

Hudson was detained based on an arrest warrant from police in Webster, Texas, who had identified her as their suspect in an alleged shoplifting incident at a sports store. The alleged shoplifter had the same name as Hudson, and police believed the suspect's photo matched images on the 31-year-old's social media.

“When you know that you didn’t do anything wrong, it makes you feel crazy,” Hudson told NBC Philadelphia, adding she has never been to Texas. “Everybody is sure that you did something, that you’re [a] criminal, but you know that that’s not who you are."

The Harris County District Attorney's Office in Texas said they dismissed the case "within five minutes" after learning about the mistaken identity.

“We accept charges based on the sworn evidence presented to us by law enforcement,” a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “Tuesday, Webster Police notified the court of the error. We dismissed the case within five minutes and immediately contacted Philadelphia Police to release our hold on Ms. Hudson.”

“Ms. Hudson was in custody since 1/05/22 in Philadelphia on charges of FOJ based off of an active arrest warrant out of Webster, Texas,” the Philadelphia Police Department said in a statement.

“PPD became aware of the warrant being dismissed on 1/11/23 at approximately 5 PM after receiving a media inquiry,” it said. “At that time, we immediately requested that Ms. Hudson be released from custody and worked with the Philadelphia Department of Prisons to process her release in as expeditious a manner as possible. In addition, the PPD has opened an investigation into when communication was sent from the issuing jurisdiction stating that charges were dismissed.”

Though Hudson was released from jail on Wednesday (January 11), her family said they're still working to clear her record and are considering taking legal action over the incident.

“I want to find out what happened,” the family told NBC Philadelphia. “I want to find out how this happened and I want it to not happen to anyone else ever again.”

\Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner released the following statement on Thursday (January 12), apologizing for the incident.

“The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office became aware of Julie Hudson’s predicament last evening, thanks in part to media reports out of Houston and in Philly. I am not aware of any efforts by Texas authorities to contact my office directly about the misidentification of Ms. Hudson, which led to her arrest by Philadelphia Police on January 6 based on a fugitive warrant.
Once the District Attorney’s Office independently became aware that Webster Police had confirmed to local media that they had wrongly sought Ms. Hudson for arrest, we mobilized quickly to make sure Ms. Hudson was released from custody as soon as possible.
Julie Hudson is a Philadelphia resident who has no criminal record and is pursuing a Ph.D. What happened to her should not have happened, and her family deserves a great deal of credit for successfully advocating for her freedom with the media in Houston and in Philadelphia," he said.

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