Lawsuit alleges man put in Cuyahoga County jail for crime he couldn’t have committed

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CLEVELAND (WJW) -- A federal lawsuit alleges Cleveland police put out an arrest warrant for a man who had never stepped foot in Cleveland - setting in motion a series of events that led to that man spending 36 hours in the county jail before he could get into court, where he was released in two minutes.

The "probable cause" affidavit indicates that Leon Burroughs was involved in an altercation with a woman over getting his things out of her apartment.

Whether his name sounded familiar to the woman's ex-boyfriend is unclear. At the court hearing where he was set free, authorities indicated neither Burroughs' name nor his date of birth matched the person who police may have been looking for.

"It is just horrifying," says Burroughs, 25, who works for a major bank in his hometown of Columbus.

After he found out an arrest warrant had been issued, Burroughs immediately hired a criminal lawyer, and got on a bus from Columbus to Cleveland to try and straighten the situation out.

His criminal lawyer told him he had to be processed into the system because the warrant had been issued.

So Burroughs spent two nights in jail waiting to appear in court.

"This is outrageous," says Tom Merriman of Merriman Legal, the firm that is handling Burroughs' civil suit.

While not certain yet of all the facts, Merriman says it appears detectives didn't even do basic police work, including interviewing the victim before seeking an arrest warrant against Burroughs.

A spokesperson for Cleveland Police says neither the division, nor the city, will comment on a pending lawsuit.

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