A Californian man went on a vacation with his partner. When he came home, he was in for a nasty surprise: his photo was plastered all over the news in connection to a burglary.
Ike Iloputaife had been walking his two Borzoi dogs, Lars and Luvkiy, early in the morning of May 16, just like he had always done. Seven hours later, a home in his Vista neighborhood was broken into and burglarized. The culprits stole several handguns and rifles.
Six days later, the San Diego County Sheriff released photos of the suspect along with their general descriptions. All the images were from CCTV footage of burglarized home — except one. This was an extremely grainy photo of Iloputaife taking his two dogs for a walk in his own street.
Apparently, the police believed the Nigerian-born man resembled “Suspect 2” in the burglary. It’s very bizarre how that could be considering that while both the men were black, that is where the similarities ended.
According to the police, the alleged burglar was 20 to 35-years-old, around 260 pounds and 6ft 6in tall. However, Iloputaife is 55-years-old, is only 5ft 9in and weighs 195 pounds.
But the question is where did Iloputaife’s photo come from if he was not linked to the burglary?
This is where it gets preposterous.
Apparently, a woman in the black man’s neighborhood took a photo of Iloputaife as he took his dogs out for a walk — before the burglary even happened. According to the woman, she did that because she saw a “stranger on her street.”
Iloputaife was no “stranger,” he lived on the same block and Monte Vista Drive is hardly the woman’s “street.”
The woman then turned over the photo to the police after the house close to her was robbed. But what’s worse is the fact the police thought it was a good idea to paste Iloputaife’s picture on the San Diego Crime Stopper website and on news outlets without a shred of evidence.
Lt. Jack Reynolds said the San Diego Sheriff’s Department had to look at all evidence if the crime is severe enough and there are no good leads.
“With a crime where we have no leads other than surveillance footage, we’re going to look at allinformation that comes in as a potential lead,” said Reynolds.
Iloputaife was confronted with the nasty surprise when he came back from a vacation in Yosemite and his neighbor told him he was a wanted suspect. For the past few weeks, the man has been trying to clear his name, with absolutely no co-operation from the police, despite the fact neighbors have called the Sheriff’s Office to tell them they know Iloputaife and he lived in the same neighborhood.
The Nigerian-born came to the United States in 1981 to study engineering and participate as a competitive sprinter. He moved with his partner to France in 1995 and only decided to come back to the U.S. two years ago. He has a dual nationality as a U.S. citizen as well as a French one. However, this latest incident has made him reconsider his decision to move to America.
Iloputaife said in his more than two decades of living in France, he never once experienced racism, but in just two years of living in the U.S., he has been targeted with racial slurs.
Cases of mistake identities are the leading cause of wrongful conviction in the U.S., said Prof. Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project at the California Western School of Law. He also mentioned racism plays a factor when people are asked to identify a person.
“When you look at the studies, we are absolutely terrible at identifying humans who are not of our own race,” Brooks explained. “Sometimes we make mistakes, and those kinds of mistakes can devastate people’s lives and leave their reputation in tatters.”
It seems one such “mistake” has succeeded in turning Iloputaife’s world upside down.
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