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Flagstaff tour guide sues airline for wrongful arrest

Posted at 10:18 PM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 01:18:27-04

A Grand Canyon tour guide from Flagstaff says he was wrongfully jailed after he was mistaken for a burglary suspect, according to a lawsuit filed in Texas.

Michael Lowe says he hasn’t spent much time at all in Tarrant County, Texas. The last time he was there, it was just for an hour to change planes.

Back in May of 2020, he was flying from Flagstaff to Reno with a layover at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Little did he know at the time, but someone on that flight was a burglary suspect wanted by police for trying to steal from a DFW airport duty-free shop.

According to a lawsuit filed in Texas, Lowe was the one charged in connection to that burglary.

“I traveled for the next 14 months completely unaware that these charges had been filed against me,” said Lowe over a zoom call with his attorney on the line.

Lowe found out about those charges over a year later.

While vacationing with friends in New Mexico on July 4 of 2021, Lowe was a witness to an altercation.

When Police ran Lowe’s name through a law enforcement database, his outstanding warrant popped up. Police had no choice but to arrest him.

That led to over two weeks of jail time for Lowe, a total of seventeen days. To make matters worse, Lowe said the bus he took to get back to Flagstaff broke down.

“I don’t feel like I’m the same person since after spending that time in jail, the horrificness of what I witnessed still haunts me,”

The lawsuit details Lowe’s time in jail as a nightmare with violent outbursts from inmates, witnessing physical altercations and a lack of COVID-19 prevention measures that led to anxiety.

The suit states Lowe was released from jail in New Mexico without any explanation.

Eventually, DFW Airport Police compared security video images from the store burglary suspect against Lowe’s mugshot in New Mexico and determined, Lowe was not the person in the video.

According to airport police records, it was American Airlines security that provided Lowe’s name to police

”They didn’t comply with the search warrant, The search warrant asks for the manifest they decided to play detective instead of flying planes,” said Scott Palmer, Lowe’s attorney out of Dallas.

American airlines sent us a statement in response saying in part, “As required by law, American cooperates with and responds to court orders for information related to possible criminal activity, and that’s what we did in this instance when we were presented with a search warrant.”

ABC15 reached out to DFW Airport police and have yet to hear back.

It’s unclear if the burglary suspect was ever caught.