It's said everyone has a doppelganger somewhere. Unfortunately for Victorville truck driver Jimmie Williams, his also lives in the Inland Empire and has not only a similar name and the same date of birth, but also a lengthy criminal record and an outstanding felony warrant.
"I'm beyond fed up," Williams said Thursday, a day after he was detained by sheriff's deputies outside his own home until they were satisfied he's not the felon wanted in the warrant.
"It's been in my face since 2006," the 34-year-old said.
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The Victorville Williams said since then -- despite a clean record -- he has been detained numerous times after his name was run during traffic stops or other encounters with law enforcement, and information came back for the other Williams. Against him, Riverside County records show at least five criminal filings since 2001, and the issuance of a felony warrant a month ago. He's still at large.
In the Wednesday case, San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies spoke to the Victorville Williams after a burglar alarm went off at his home. He was handcuffed and held several minutes in the back of a patrol car before deputies verified his insistence he's not the wanted Williams.
The Victorville Williams said he provided his ID, but acknowledged he declined a request for his social security number, and it was at that point that he was cuffed and placed in the back of the patrol car. During an interview, Williams said he's fearful of any more identifying information becoming compromised.
That the deputies did the research to clarify identity before transporting the Victorville Williams shows their commitment to avoiding an improper arrest, said Sgt. Marc Bracco. Handcuffing a suspect -- especially a potentially wanted felon -- is done for officer safety, Bracco said.
The Victorville Williams notes that their names are not identical, he being Jimmie Williams III -- without a middle name -- and the wanted one being Jimmie Antonio Williams, Jr. Nevertheless, the misunderstandings have continued, and Williams III believes it has led to confusion over fingerprints and even identifying tattoos.
Over the years Williams III said he has been saddled with the mistaken identity by police in Fontana and San Bernardino before it was rectified.
As an African-American, he believes racial prejudice has been a factor in the persistence of the misperception of his identity.
Williams III works as a truckdriver, though he has been on worker's comp since suffering shoulder injuries that have required one surgery, and a second is pending, he said. He has two children, and his significant other is expecting.
With the shoulder injuries limiting arm mobility, having his hands cuffed was painful, Williams III said.
Deputies have gone to their Victorville home three times in recent weeks, Bracco said, noting that all were in response to calls for service -- burglar alarms in two cases and the other to investigate reported car thefts.
Williams III said, anticipating further identity confusion, a sergeant at the Victorville station recently gave him a letter he could show to law enforcement to vouch for his not being the wanted Williams.
The copy Williams III carried with him was among the items taken during the theft, and so he did not have it with him Wednesday, he said. Afterwards he went to the Victorville station, and the sergeant prepared him a new one.
A digital flag signaling potential for Jimmie Williams mistaken indentity has been added to the sheriff's jail record computer system, Bracco said. But that did not prevent the initial confusion Wednesday.
"I don't want to change my name," Williams III said. "I want the system to get this under control."
He's also retained an attorney, Jaaye Person-Lynn, to seek solutions, and to explore the possibility of filing a claim for damages.