PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - Karma or a love rival's revenge? FOX4 is finally getting its hands on key audio about a big mistake. Punta Gorda police wrongfully arrested an innocent woman who dated the same guy as the police dispatcher in the case. The dispatcher is supposed to check to make sure officers are taking the right person to jail. But the audio shows she laughed as the wrong woman was about to be put behind bars. And, that dispatcher is still on the job tonight. Four In Your Corner Investigator Dave Culbreth is digging deeper tonight.
Here's the bottom line..... the innocent woman, Brandy Lowe, shares the same exact name with a woman who had a warrant out for her arrest. Now, as a result of all this, the Punta Gorda Police say its changed its policies. But it still refuses to admit that it did anything wrong.
The big question is - Did the dispatcher know she had the wrong woman and let her go to jail anyway because they both had dated the same guy? Here are some audio excerpts from an incoming phone call from the officer who ultimately arrested Lowe:
Dispatcher: "It comes back to a Brandy Lee Lowe"
Officer: "Yes, maam, and do you see the warrant that's attached with that?
Dispatcher: (laughs) "oh....ah....ha...yes"
Even though she knows calls into an emergency call center are recorded, that was still the reaction of dispatcher Cindy Proud. The attorney for Brandy Lowe says she knows why Proud's laughing. "They had a relationship with the same guy at different times and there was some sort of dispute regarding that," said Liz Kagan who is an attorney in Fort Myers who Lowe got after the wrongful arrest. "I don't know the lady and I wasn't in a serious relationship, I just went on a couple of dates," said Brandy Lowe, of Port Charlotte.
Had dispatcher Proud asked the Lake County Sheriff's Office for a mug shot she would have gotten a mug shot of a different Brandy Lowe, the real person who is the subject of the warrant. "She was the one responsible for verifying through the Lake Co. Sheriff's Department that the person they had in custody matched the warrant that they had, and she didn't do that," added Kagan.
After FOX4 got involved, the Punta Gorda Police did an internal investigation;
Investigator: "There's gonna be some questions because on the tape you're heard laughing. Can you kinda explain to me why you think that you laughed?"
Dispatcher: "Her (Brandy) and (bleep bleep), at the time that we were supposed to be in a committed relationship had had phone conversations. If they had a relationship, I don't know".
Investigator: "You realized it was the same person?
Dispatcher: "I thought it was.
This supposed "jealousy" started about a year ago when Proud says she ran into Lowe;
Dispatcher: "I was discussing someone I was dating at the time. Brandy overheard it and she called (bleep bleep) and and (bleep) had called me and then an argument pursued between (bleep) and I. She had no business repeating something that I said.
Later in the interview, the investigator asked about the laugh again;
Dispatcher: "I believe in Karma and and when I knew that it was her, that's why I laughed".
Investigator: "Do you think that distracted you at all from how you processed this incident?"
Dispatcher: "No sir. I would never let my personal life interfere with my job".
To which the attorney replied, "You always bring everything that happens to you in your life with you to work. Some people just don't show it. She did."
FOX4 has asked the mayor, city council, city manager and police chief numerous times to do an interview and nobody will. Yet, nobody, including that dispatcher, has been reprimanded in any way.
What do you think about how the dispatcher and the rest of the department have handled this case and city officials' refusal to answer the questions we're asking on your behalf? Call us with you answer (239) 206-FOX4 or email us at www.News@FOX4now.com.