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While an indictment for ten counts of exploitation of a minor committed in 2014 named Timothy Dean Diaz, law enforcement officials in 2017 picked up Timothy Ernie Diaz, who is now suing Chandler police, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for the error, KNXV reported.
"This is a travesty of justice. It is incomprehensible that an innocent man would be arrested for something he didn't do," Danny Ortega, the attorney for Timothy Ernie Diaz, told KNXV. "They are not similar in any way -- other than their first and last name."
Diaz’ family figured out what happened.
"His son is the real savior. (He) made a public records request for the report over at the Chandler Police Department," Ortega told KNXV. "They said 'Hey, we don't have anybody under your father's name but we do have the first and last name, but the middle name is different.'"
The family noticed the error, called Diaz’s attorney and scheduled an emergency hearing where he was released.
“The police officer that was investigating the case over at Chandler, he appeared and said, ‘That's not him! That's not the guy I was after’,” Ortega said.
The lawsuit does not indicate a specific amount of money they are seeking. Chandler police and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office did not comment because of the pending lawsuit.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office issued the following statement:
“The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office apprehended an individual based on information that was contained in a grand jury indictment. Any further information or details will be released following the conclusion of the pending litigation.”
Meanwhile, the actual suspect, Timothy Dean Diaz, was arrested for sex abuse in 2015 in Oregon, KNXV reported. He was convicted of attempted to sexually abuse a minor in 2017 and sentenced to five months probation.
He was arrested in July 2018 for at least two alleged rapes committed in 2015 against children and is currently being held in jail, KNXV reported.