A Las Vegas man was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. It happened because he has the same name as the suspect.
Now, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department could be facing a lawsuit.
This story begins with the sale of sex in late 2015. Three female Green Valley High School students who were 15, 16 and 17 said they worked out an arrangement with a 17-year-old boy, and two men who were 18 and 22 years old.
The guys were the drivers, helped organize appointments or tricks, and collected some of the earnings.
Malik Clark, now 20 years old was one of those men.
“I just feel there was no justice,” Clark said.
Six months after the plan, the girls testified in court, the guys never forced them to sell sex, but by law, the girls were recognized as victims of sex trafficking.
Clark and his two friends were accused of being pimps and arrested. Clark was also accused of having sex with one of the girls who was underage.
His 17-year-old friend was charged as an adult and all three faced life in prison.
“Everyday I was just thinking like I could go away from my family forever, everybody forever,”Malik says. “So, yeah, I was pretty scared and shocked at the time.”
Clark and his co-defendants all received probation through guilty pleas. He’s now a felon convicted of attempted pandering, which means pimping.
“Those are charges where you’re like oh, no.”
Getting a job, Clark says, has been a challenge.
“They like me and it’s that last question, are you a convicted felon?”
He claims he finally had been hired for a job in January and was ready to begin, but when he showed up to the probation office for what he thought was an appointment, he was taken into custody, arrested for sex trafficking again.
“When this happened, that’s what scared me the most,” he said. “My mom was like, she’s like ‘I know, I know this isn’t you.'”
“I knew my son has been in Las Vegas this whole time,” said Nyana Clark. “He’s been trying to keep his nose clean.”
The I-Team obtained the arrest report for that second case. The document refers back to Sept. 2017 when a “Malik Clark” is accused of recruiting as a pimp in New Mexico, then traveling to Arizona, California and finally Las Vegas and he’s accused of being violent. There’s also a female suspect, Amber Garcia who also known as Amber Gross.
Nyana Clark and attorney Michael Pandullo say they believe they tracked her down on Facebook and she’s friends with the man who they believe police meant to find.
“The police report says that this guy has gold teeth. Malik has perfect teeth,” Pandullo said.
According to the report, the suspect stopped in Freso, California to pick up a black Inifiniti SUV. On Facebook, his location is Fresno and there’s a photo with a black Infiniti SUV.
Clark’s attorney also provided Snapchat screen grabs showing him with his girlfriend in Las Vegas from the same time period the pimp would have been going state to state.
“Blew my mind. I said, how did they mess this up?” Nyana Clark said.
Reporter Vanessa Murphy: “What are the similarities?”
Nyana Clark: “That they’re young, black boys.”
“I seen a picture and I was like are you serious? Like are you guys serious? Malik Clark said.
The I-Team contacted Metro Police and the department confirms – yes – the wrong Malik Clark was arrested.
A spokesman says the incorrect Malik Clark was the only one that showed up in Metro’s database, and there was a similar physical description and detectives considered Clark’s criminal history for a similar crime.
Also, the victim of the crime disappeared so detectives couldn’t do a photo lineup.
“It’s a tough sell to say my client is completely innocent even though he’s on probation for the same thing,” Pandullo said.
Clark was released after spending 16 days in jail.
“It was crazy because everyday I’m looking in the mirror like I know i’m innocent.”
The chief deputy district attorney wrote he was not the correct suspect. We are in receipt of additional evidence as of this afternoon that clarifies the identity of the actual suspect.
Metro Police tell the I-Team the investigation is ongoing and a statement of complaint is being opened to see if the detectives had any missteps since the I-Team contacted the department.
“I think that at least they would owe him an apology,” Pandullo said.
The family is considering a lawsuit against the department.
“It’s disappointing in the system that you want to believe in,” Nyana Clark said.
8 News NOW wants to be clear. Police have not confirmed the identity of the Malik Clark they are looking for.
Again, attorney Michael Pandullo and his clients claim they know his identity.