• Police gave Joshua Spriestersbach 50 cents and set him free
  • Police failed to match Spriestersbach's fingerprints and photographs with the accused
  • Spriestersbach was forcibly injected with drugs when he refused to go to drug rehabilitation treatment 

A man was mistakenly arrested for a crime someone else committed and forced to remain at the Hawaii State hospital for two years, where he was forcibly injected with drugs.

In 2017, Joshua Spriestersbach was homeless and fell asleep outside Safe Haven in Chinatown when a Honolulu officer arrested him. The officer mistook Spriestersbach for Thomas Castleberry, who was wanted for violating his probation concerning a 2006 drug case, reported Associated Press.

On Monday night, a petition was filed by The Hawaii Innocence Project to have Spriestersbach’s records corrected and asked a judge to vacate his arrest. The agency’s document claims that the victim was provided with ineffective counsel. The petition also states that the police, the state public defender’s office, the state attorney general and the hospital are equally at fault for the gross misjudgment.

Spriestersbach and Castleberry had never met. According to Spriestersbach’s lawyer, the mistake would have come to light if police matched Spriestersbach and Castleberry’s fingerprints and photographs.

“It was understandable that Mr. Spriestersbach was in an agitated state when he was being wrongfully incarcerated for Mr. Castleberry’s crime and despite his continual denial of being Mr. Castleberry and providing all of his relevant identification and places where he was located during Mr. Castleberry’s court appearances, no one would believe him or take any meaningful steps to verify his identity,” read the petition.

“The real Thomas Castleberry had been arrested in 2006. He had been booked in OCCC in 2006. He had been fingerprinted by the police in 2006. He’d been photographed by the police in 2006,” said Ken Lawson of the Hawaii Innocence Project, reported KAIT.

“They had the real Thomas Castleberry’s identification fingerprints and photograph online.” But, officials failed to verify Spriestersbach's identity.

During his time at the State hospital, Spriestersbach was forcibly injected with drugs, especially when he refused to go to drug rehabilitation treatment that Castleberry was supposed to be a part of.

A hospital psychiatrist finally listened to Spriestersbach and asked a detective to come and verify his claims. After photographs and fingerprints verified that Spriestersbach was not the real Castleberry, officials moved quickly to have him released from the hospital quietly in January 2020.

“A secret meeting was held with all of the parties, except Mr. Spriestersbach, present. There is no court record of this meeting or no public court record of this meeting. No entry or order reflects this miscarriage of justice that occurred or a finding that Mr. Spriestersbach is not Thomas Castleberry,” states the court document obtained by AP.

The officials just gave him 50 cents and set him free.

Spriestersbach is currently living with his sister, Vedanta Griffith. According to Griffith, her brother never leaves their property because he is afraid that will be stopped and jailed by the officers again.

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Representation. Police. Pixabay