ST. ANN, MO (KTVI)-The St. Ann police chief is apologizing after an innocent man was injured and bloodied when he was mistakenly arrested Thursday afternoon. Joseph Swink, 22, is a college junior studying accounting. He was on his way home from an internship at Edward Jones when it all unfolded.
His grandmother, Marettree Sanders, says, “I’m angry. I’m upset. I didn’t sleep last night.”
She didn’t sleep because of what happened to her grandson. The family has a photo showing Joseph’s bloodied face.
Swink said he feared for his life.
“I’m just glad that I’m still here.”
St. Ann police says it was a case of mistaken identity on I-70. St. Ann police were pursuing a suspect wanted for 17 warrants. The suspect’s car crashed and went down into a ditch where he was arrested. The chief says Swink’s car had been clipped by the suspect and also crashed.
When a second police car arrived, the three detectives inside only saw Swink’s car and him running from it. Police assumed the worst.
St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez said, “Most of the time when you see that you know this is the bad guy. He’s running. Unfortunately, he was a citizen.”
Swink was totally innocent. It turns out he was running from his car because it was filling with smoke.
“This is all we ask of our young men, to do the right thing, become productive citizens in this country and he’s not being given that opportunity because someone has mistaken him for a criminal and that upsets me very much,” said Sanders.
Chief Jimenez said, “I do apologize. As the police chief who runs this city, I do apologize to Mr. Swink that this has happened.”
Swink’s family thinks the color of his skin played a part in the incident.
Joseph Swink said, “There was nobody black on the scene, just a lot of white cops. I didn’t feel safe around them. I think they probably felt they could get away with it because I was and they can do this.”
The police chief responded, “This has zero to do about race.”
He said the three detectives will not be disciplined because they were acting in good faith. Swink said he’s still in pain and needs to return to the doctor. He is considering hiring a lawyer for a civil suit.
St. Louis County police are investigating the incident.