March 7, 2007
New York - WABC - A mother is suing the city, after she says she was mistakenly arrested and her child was forced in foster care for days.
The woman says police confused her with someone else, but despite her protests, they hauled her off to jail and put her three-year-old daughter in foster care for four days.
Eyewitness News reporter Carolina Tarazona has more from the Lower East Side.
According to Margarita Santiago, 28, she had never been in trouble with the law. Yet, this time, she was arrested even though she said she told cops several times, 'you got the wrong woman.'
"I get behind the wheel. Police officers' vehicle was behind us. She panicked," Santiago said. "She thinks she is going to be taken away, again."
That is three-year-old Mikhaila Santiago-Harper's biggest fear that her mom will, once again, be handcuff and taken away. Allegedly that is what happened December 8th.
Margarita who lives in Pennsylvania was in New York to do her Christmas shopping. She was a passenger in her friend's car when they got pulled over.
"An officer approached me and asked me to move the vehicle. She asked my drivers' license," Santiago said. "And she asked me to step out of the vehicle."
But there was a problem. The warrant was for Margarita Santelises, not Margarita Santiago.
Santiago says she was taken into custody, anyway. Meanwhile, her three-year-old daughter Mikhaila was put in a foster home and she was there for four days.
"I was devastating. I was crying. I was upset. I didn't understand why they would take me in because I was never been arrested," Santiago said. "I was never been in trouble with the law, here New York or Pennsylvania."
Margarita and her attorney are suing the city and the NYPD. They say the humiliation and trauma was too much, especially for little Mikhaila.
She says whenever her daughter sees a police car "she worries that they're going to arrest mommy."
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