News 02.15.08

Misidentification led to false charges in Pittsburgh case

While Michael Disimo spent two months in jail for a bank robbery he didn’t commit, he lost his job and missed his son’s birthday. Disimo was arrested for the 2005 bank robbery when a police officer thought he looked like the description of the perpetrator. A bank teller was then brought to the location of the police stop to identify Disimo, in what is called a “show up” identification procedure. She said she was 100 percent sure it was him.

He was questioned by police and the FBI.

Disimo said, "They had given me the polygraph test and they said that I failed it and at that point, ya know, I was really like confused, shocked, scared, definitely scared because I had never been arrested before."

Disimo was taken to the Allegheny County Jail and held on $50,000 bond. Money he didn't have.

"I flipped out and basically had a breakdown. They had put me on a suicide watch." Disimo said. 

Disimo was freed after the eyewitness withdrew her identification and another man confessed to committing the robbery.


Read the full story here

. (Pittsburgh.com, 02/15/08)

Eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful conviction, contributing to 75 percent of the 213 cases overturned by DNA testing to date. Improving the identification procedures used by police around the country will prevent both wrongful convictions and wrongful arrests. A witness’ “100 percent” identification is strong evidence in a courtroom. Would Disimo have been convicted if the real perpetrator hadn’t come forward?



Read more about eyewitness identification reforms supported by the Innocence Project

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