CHANDLER, AZ — A Valley father is suing Chandler police, the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, and others after he was wrongly arrested for a crime another man with the same name committed.
The lawsuit states the wrong man was indicted for ten counts of exploitation of a minor, held in jail for three days, and forced to post a $10,000 bond. The lawsuit does not identify who made the mistake and how, which is why it names three organizations and multiple individuals as defendants.
In 2014 Chandler police arrested 22-year-old Timothy Dean Diaz for downloading child porn. They submitted the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for prosecution.
For some reason, the charges were not presented to a grand jury until 2017.
When they were, the indictment was for Timothy Ernie Diaz, the wrong man. An arrest warrant was issued for the 53-year-old father, not the actual suspect.
“This is a travesty of justice. It is incomprehensible that an innocent man would be arrested for something he didn’t do,” said Danny Ortega, the attorney filing the lawsuit for Timothy Ernie Diaz.
The two Tim Diaz's not only have different middle names, but they are 27 years apart in age, have five inches in height difference, and have different ethnicities.
“They are not similar in any way - other than their first and last name,” said Ortega.
The suspect is a young white guy with brown hair, while the innocent Mr. Diaz is an older Hispanic father.
Ortega is now representing the wrongfully arrested dad that spent days in jail and had to post a $10,000 bond to get out.
“He borrowed money from family.”
It was family that helped uncover the truth.
“His son is the real savior...[he] made a public records request for the report over at the Chandler Police Department,” said Ortega. “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.'”
When the son got the report and noticed the glaring difference of birth dates and middle names, he went straight to his dad’s publicly appointed attorney.
An emergency hearing was scheduled.
“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’,” said Ortega.
The charges were completely dropped last October.
Meanwhile, police in Oregon had arrested the real suspect, Timothy Dean Diaz, for sex abuse in 2015.
He was convicted of attempting to sexually abuse a minor, and sentenced to just five years probation in 2017.
Just two months ago, in July 2018, he was arrested again for at least two different alleged rapes involving kids in 2015.
It is unknown if the indictment in Arizona had been accurate and come sooner, if more victims could have been prevented.
“The city of Chandler and or Maricopa County have to figure that out. They both can't say they didn't do something wrong,” said Ortega. “There has got to be accountability. This should never happen to anyone else.”
The lawsuit does not specify the amount of money it is seeking. It claims the innocent Tim Diaz's blood pressure has since spiked and the charges hurt his employment status and hi company’s ability to seek new business.
His mugshot is also still on multiple third-party websites, something Ortega said will cost thousands to have removed.
The actual suspect is currently locked up in Oregon, for multiple counts of rape, in two different counties.
He finally has Fugitive Hold for the state of Arizona.
Chandler PD and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said they could not comment because of the pending lawsuit.
MCSO sent the following statement:
“On September 12th 2017, 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.”