ONLY ON 3: Mistaken identity sends man to jail for twin's crime
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, TN. (WRCB) - Mitch Torbett says it was his twin brother police were looking for. He spent two days in the slammer before he was finally able to convince them of their mistake.
Torbett was arrested on Signal Mountain for a federal charge. He was jailed for nearly two days before authorities realized they were mistaking him for his dead twin brother.
Torbett is working with an attorney to file a civil suit against the Signal Mountain Police Department and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.
He was arrested last week for a federal crime his identical twin brother allegedly committed in Louisiana before he died two years ago.
"If they would've trusted me, if they would've given me the benefit of the doubt, if they would've done that, none of this would've happened," Mitch Torbett says.
Torbett says it all started when applying for a construction permit with Signal Mountain.
"After running my driver's license, said perhaps I had a federal warrant for my arrest," Torbett says.
Mitch Torbett told police the federal warrant had to be linked to his identical twin who died two years ago.
Signal Mountain Police Chief Boyd Veal declined an interview, but says the warrant had Mitch's name on it, so they did their part by arresting him and turning the case over to the FBI.
"I quickly realized I wasn't being detained for fingerprints, but rather being arrested," Torbett says.
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office also says the warrant was under Mitch's name, but the affidavit shows "Mike Torbett," Mitch's twin.
Under the arrestee's name it says, "unknown-- do not change."
"I saw his name and I realized that I was in trouble, big trouble," Torbett says.
Mitch was booked, but says he refused to sign any paperwork because it had his brother's name on it.
"I turned into my identical twin, deceased brother," Torbett says.
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office says Mike must have given Mitch's name when he was arrested before, saying, "that happens with twins all the time."
When Mitch went before a judge, the FBI presented fingerprints from both brothers.
"She said, 'your honor, we have the wrong person. He needs to be released immediately'," Torbett says.
He was released after 36 hours behind bars. The words "wrong person" are now written on his legal documents.
"Emotionally, I can't even put it into words," Torbett says.
According the to affidavit, and what Mitch says the FBI told him, investigators had been on their way to extradite him to Louisiana.
Torbett's attorney says he's working on a civil suit for false arrest and false imprisonment, and will likely seek compensation for emotional distress.