Oakland Man Wrongly Placed On ‘Most Wanted’ List
Sucks to be you, Chau Van. When you watch programs such as “America’s Most Wanted,” and see other lists of authorities’ most sought-after criminals, you tend to believe they’re true, right? Well, Van probably did, too, until he was listed on TV as Oakland’s most-wanted fugitive, when he knew good and well he hadn’t committed any crimes.
It all started in February 2011 when Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan held a news conference and named the city’s four most-wanted suspects, including Van. The announcement was covered by the local news, which went on to state Van as a gang member wanted in connection with a shooting. Van didn’t see the report, but soon got a call from a friend informing him of his new title. I can only imagine how that conversation went…
Van: “Hey, how’s it going?”
Friend:”Dude, did you see the news? The cops are after you.”
Van: “Say wha?”
Friend: “Yeah, they were talking about gangs and stuff and said you were on the most wanted list for shooting some guy…”
Van: “Holy Shit!”
Of course since Van was innocent, you would think he could have reported the error, and all could have easily been rectified, right? Wrong. Van initially stayed home, researching his alleged crime, for a week. When he finally got up the courage to go to the police station and clear things up, police searched him, arrested him and locked him up for three days. The police proudly announced to the media that one of Oakland’s most-wanted felons was off the streets. But this time around they claimed Van was wanted for assaulting a woman with a baseball bat rather than the original crime of shooting.
Since he never actually did anything, Van was never charged, and he figured his name would automatically come off the most-wanted list. But six months later he was still there. Finally, when he sent a formal letter to the Oakland PD demanding the correction, his name was cleared. Should he be pissed? I would say so. Now he’s suing the city of Oakland as well as Jordan, claiming his reputation has been “irreparably harmed.”
Van’s attorney, DeWitt Lacy, wants the city to publicly acknowledge the error and ensure that his client is removed from all federal and state most wanted lists. And of course, since it’s a law suit, and this is America, Lacy also seeks financial compensation for his client’s lost wages and emotional distress.
“It put a great amount of fear on him and his family. He was wounded and he needs to be made whole,” Lacy told KTVU.
So what is the going rate on being “made whole?” Apparently pretty high in this case. Van had to move three times during the ordeal and had trouble getting work as a real-estate consultant and freelance Web designer. Probably not good for a Web business when you’re listed as a criminal online. Some of his friends even stopped talking to him. Poor guy. Like I said, sucks to be you, Chau Van. Hope you get some retribution in the form of a big fat check.
I want more stuff like this!