JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It was a case of mistaken identity and hasty police work.
We're hearing an apology from the Clay County Sheriff's Office for wrongfully arresting and putting an 18-year-old in jail for 35 days man for a crime he didn't commit.
Cody Lee Williams says he felt hopeless while he was in prison and only found out that he was being charged with having sex with a girl under age 12 weeks after he'd been in jail. When he made the connection that police were actually looking for Cody Raymond Williams, with whom the innocent Cody had gone to school at Clay High School, he called his mother, who called investigators and got them to admit they'd made a mistake.
Sheriff Beseler said in a statement "In fairness, let me say Deputy Hawkins has a good record with our agency. He has no prior discipline and many commendations in his file. In this case, however, he took short-cuts and didn’t do a thorough investigation. The result was an innocent man was accused of a terrible crime he didn’t commit. Arresting an innocent person is something we fear far more than letting a guilty person get away. I extend to Cody Lee Williams my apology for this error and we will seek to make things right for him. Detective Hawkins received disciplinary action for his lack of following proper investigative procedures and the supervisors who failed to properly review his work have also been held accountable. This incident is an anomaly for the CCSO and is certainly not representative of the excellent work done by the men and women of this agency day in and day out.”
In another document pertaining to Hawkins, Beseler wrote "As a result of your incompetence, an innocent man was arrested for an offense that he did not commit."
Cody Lee Williams' attorney, Kristopher Nowicki, says his client isn't holding a grudge.
"I think you'll find that he is salt of the earth. He's a nice kid. He doesn't hold a grudge. He doesn't want to be in the limelight, but he is," Nowicki said.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office has been informed that there is a lawsuit pending, so taxpayers could end up on the hook for the mistakes.
Detective Hawkins has been given a ten day unpaid suspension and will be demoted from detective to the patrol division. Three other deputies were also disciplined.