FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Call it a case of driving while behind the wheel of a white Nissan.
Attorney Patrick Anstead said his client, 51-year-old Jacqueline McNeill, was wrongfully arrested by the Fayetteville Police Department on July 20.
Police accused her of using her white Nissan Sedan in a drive-by shooting on July 18 outside of a vape shop on Camden Road. McNeill was then pulled over and arrested two days later.
“They arrested Miss McNeill without a warrant or probable cause, and that right there is an invalid arrest,” Attorney Anstead said.
Fayetteville police identified a white Nissan Sedan leaving the direction of the shooting with a nearby city surveillance camera. At the same time, license plate reader camera more than one mile away on Owen Drive caught McNeill’s car.
Two days later she was pulled over by police, arrested and interrogated, her attorney said. He also said police even accused McNeill’s son of the shooting, that was also false.
“After a while, law enforcement realized they had captured the images of two different cars and had arrested the wrong person. Ultimately, letting Miss McNeill go without charging her with a crime,” Attorney Anstead said. “What they were initially supposed to do was stop and hold the car and let detectives come and examine it and determine rather or not it was the right one. Instead, they skipped a step and immediately arrested her.”
Before McNeill’s attorney could file a federal lawsuit, Fayetteville police agreed to hold a mediation and resolution negotiations for a settlement.
The Fayetteville Police Department settled with McNeill for $60,000 and a written apology from retiring Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins.
“It basically says that their detectives made a mistake, and this error will lead to better training in the department going forward,” Attorney Anstead said.
The Fayetteville-based attorney also said he is concerned that officers might be relying too much on technology to identify suspects and solve cases.
“My concern is, as the city continues to implement new technology, more cameras and things like ShotSpotter when that goes in, that police are over-relying on surveillance technology and not using their training and experience to investigate these crimes,” Attorney Anstead said.
CBS 17 reached out to Fayetteville Police Department on Tuesday for comment on this settlement. We were told by a public information officer no one was available to comment.