Police officers received information from an eyewitness who wrote down the license plate number of the getaway car. When officers went to the home where the car was registered, the woman who owned the car told the officers that her nephew had been driving it. She also alerted the police that her licensed handgun had gone missing. The woman told police officers that her nephew’s name was Gerald Wilcox and he was 22 or 23 years old.
Police officers then arrested a St. Clair Shores man names Gerald Wilcox, a 43-year-old retiree. After Mr. Wilcox’s arrest, officers returned to the home of the woman who owned the getaway car and showed them a picture of the man they had just arrested. The woman told police officers the man in the photo was not her nephew. Her nephew Gerald Wilcox was 20 years younger than the man they arrested.
Employees of the Family Dollar Store who were there the night of the robbery were also shown Mr. Wilcox’s photo. Two of those employees confirmed that he was not the man who robbed the store.
Despite statements from the store employees and the woman who owned the getaway car, Mr. Wilcox was arraigned the following day. Mr. Wilcox spend 16 days in jail before Judge Shannon Holmes was given the information that the Gerald Wilcox the police should have been looking for was actually twenty years younger.
Mueller says the police department demonstrated egregious, unlawful misconduct in the case. “It’s really the callousness, coupled with the horrific sloppiness of the police work,” said Mueller.