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Sheriff apologizes after mistaken identity leads to wrong woman in handcuffs

Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman has apologized and promised to look into the actions of officers involved in a recent incident could have landed the wrong woman in jail.

According to a post she made on Facebook, at around 6 a.m., on Monday, Oct. 27, three deputies with the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office served Jessica Burnette with an arrest warrant for robbery by intimidation, leading to her being handcuffed on top of an officer's cruiser for 30 minutes to an hour before her husband was able to explain to officers it was a case of mistaken identity, which she said was confirmed by a supervisor.

“We repeatedly told the officers that they had the wrong person, that I had never been in handcuffs or any trouble besides a speeding ticket in my life,” Burnette, who said she was home with her husband and their 11-month-old daughter, said in the post.

Burnette, who could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, said she was told the warrant was based only on her name and was not able to get it dropped until Monday afternoon, hours after the incident.

"I feel extremely violated, harassed, anxious and confused at how Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office could let this happen,” she wrote. “I was an absolute firm believer in #backtheblue but this has seriously made me reconsider. To anyone else that has had this happen, I am deeply sorry.

In response, Freeman apologized for the incident and said he had approved “an immediate inquiry being conducted around this to find out why this happened” and to make sure it did not happen again.

“I found out about this late this afternoon. Jessica did absolutely nothing wrong and the checks and balances that should have caught this were not followed completely by our deputies,” Freeman wrote on Monday evening. “There is more to [this] than meets the eye, but certainly not on Jessica's part or her family.”

“Buck stops with me, they are my deputies and my responsibility. Personally, and on behalf of FCSO, she and her family have my sincere apology.”
Sheriff Ron Freeman

Freeman said he attended school with both of Burnette's parents and would be meeting with her and her mother when they have an opportunity.

“Buck stops with me, they are my deputies and my responsibility,” Freeman wrote. “Personally, and on behalf of FCSO, she and her family have my sincere apology.”

Stacie Miller, a spokesperson with the sheriff’s office, said FCSO's office of professional standards was looking into the incident.