8/3/2007Georgia: Innocent Teen Imprisoned Over Traffic Ticket
Teen arrested at Atlanta, Georgia airport jailed for eight hours because police mistakenly believed he did not pay a traffic ticket.
A high school athlete was imprisoned Monday in Atlanta, Georgia after being wrongfully accused of not paying a minor traffic ticket. U.S. Customs agents apprehended Stephen Kelsey, 17, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after the youth had returned from a long international flight he took to play soccer in Europe. Kelsey pleaded with and Atlanta police to verify that he had paid the the $175 ticket for slowing, but not completely stopping, at a stop sign. Police, instead, slapped him in handcuffs and hauled him away in front of teammates and his family. He was then tossed in the Fulton County Jail cell with thirty hardened criminals.
"I was actually thirty seconds away from having to strip down with the other inmates," Kelsey told WSB-TV in an interview.
The teen's mother, Marlene Kelsey, scrambled to marshal evidence that the fine had been paid. She found it, but the jail insisted that the police department that had issued the arrest warrant, Sandy Springs Police, agree to the release. When Marlene Kelsey attempted to call the Sandy Springs police, they were no longer answering the phone for the evening.
Stephen Kelsey spent eight hours behind bars and was released around 4am Tuesday. Sandy Springs officials apologized for the incident.