Chicago Man Wrongly Targeted By Police Dozens Of Times Because He Has Same Name And Birthdate As A Wanted Man

For almost a third of his life, he said he has lived in fear that any time he got in his car Chicago police officers would pull him over, take out their guns and force him out of his car.

Video Transcript

BRAD EDWARDS: We begin this "Hour 18" with a story that will likely leave you shocked. A Chicago man says he's been wrongly pulled over, handcuffed and thrown in jail dozens of times-- all because of his name and birthday. And it keeps happening.

CBS2 political investigator Dana Kozlov talked with him today. Dana, the police department could have taken steps to keep this from happening, but apparently didn't.

DANA KOZLOV: No, Brad. And he says it has ruined his life. He's now suing the city to try and make it stop. His attorneys say it could have been a simple fix. For instance, CPD could have put a note in its computer, but they failed to do it over and over again.

DARREN COLE: I felt like I was treated like a dog.

DANA KOZLOV: Darren Cole is now 50 years old. For almost a third of his life, he says he's lived in fear that any time he got in his car--


--Chicago Police officers would pull him over, take out their guns, and force him out of his vehicle.

How many times overall have you been pulled over and/or locked up?

DARREN COLE: 40 to 60 times.

DANA KOZLOV: 40 to 60 times?

DARREN COLE: They even had-- they even had a judge letter to come to my job and have me locked up for the warrent.

DANA KOZLOV: An outstanding, almost 20-year-old warrant for another man with the same name and birth date from a downstate county.

DARREN COLE: The guy who got the warrant is named Darren H. Cole. My name is Darren Cole. That's it. No middle name.

DANA KOZLOV: This Darren Cole was first pulled over near Jackson and Washtenaw in 2006. Subsequent stops happened all over the city, often resulting with Cole being thrown into the District 11 lockup for hours. He's afraid to drive his car now and still carries around a stack of papers showing he's not the Darren Cole--

DARREN COLE: All these files.

DANA KOZLOV: --police want, including this note from a CPD sergeant.

DARREN COLE: They call him, just in case.

DANA KOZLOV: He's repeatedly asked police to update their records to stop the stops, but nothing changes.

DANIEL MASSOGLIA: I think it is indicative of the Chicago Police Department's blatant disregard for the safety and security of Black Chicagoans.

DANA KOZLOV: Daniel Massoglia is one lawyer now representing Cole in his federal civil rights lawsuit. He says CPD could have taken many steps to correct the situation, including putting a note in their computer or CLEAR system instead of putting the onus on Cole to do it. His attorneys even sent this letter to city lawyers in January.

DANIEL MASSOGLIA: Just trying to get something done beforehand and just radio silence.

DARREN COLE: I lost my family. I lost my house.

DANA KOZLOV: And he says the whole ordeal almost cost him his life.

DARREN COLE: I went to the river, down to the lakefront a lot of times, and I was thinking about jumping because I thought I lost it all, because everybody was telling me ain't nothing they could do. You know what I'm saying? And so God just told me like this, "Don't give up."

DANA KOZLOV: A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department says they don't comment on pending litigation. And a spokesperson for the law department says they've received the complaint and are reviewing it. Brad?

BRAD EDWARDS: OK. So Dana, no one at CPD will say they didn't take steps to help Cole. So, what happens next?

DANA KOZLOV: Well, Cole's attorney says they're going to file a motion for a preliminary injunction to try to make these stops stop as the litigation progresses. And I also should point out that Cole was never charged with anything after all of those dozens of times he was pulled over and arrested. Brad?

BRAD EDWARDS: CBS2 political investigator Dana Koslov. Dana, our thanks this Friday.