Iowa Marine Sergeant Says She Was Arrested for a Crime Someone Else Committed

CLIVE, Iowa  --  A sergeant in the Marine Corps says she was arrested for a crime that somebody else committed, and is considering suing the department that issued the warrant.

Sergeant Kaylie Coats says at some point while she was stationed in California, someone else ditched on a cab ride, and a clerical error issued the arrest warrant for her instead.

Coats had returned from duty in Missouri in early December on emergency leave. She was to care for her stepmother who just had a tumor removed.

On December 7th, she was arrested.

“I had applied the night before it happened for a permit to carry in the state of Iowa. The next afternoon is when there was a sheriff that lives in the neighborhood at my front door,” said Coats.

Sergeant Coats says the sheriff said he had to arrest her because she had a warrant out for fifth degree theft.  Coats was stunned, she wasn't in the state when the theft happened.

“I was really confused at what was going on. I was confused, I was nervous, and it immediately stressed me out. I had to leave my stepmom at home by herself,” said Coats.

She was confused, and later embarrassed, when the Dallas County Sheriff's Deputy transferred her to Clive police custody.

“The worst part was when we were off of Hickman and I was in the back of a squad car and I got changed over in handcuffs, driving through traffic, five o’clock traffic, coming up to stoplights and sitting in traffic with people looking at me in the back of the car was very, very embarrassing,” said Coats.

Coats says she told Clive police they had the wrong person, and after being booked into Polk County Jail and hours later being bailed out, she says they realized they had made a mistake and the chief called to apologize.

“I was appreciative of the apology, definitely, but at that point it couldn't refund the time I missed out with my family or taking care of my stepmom at the time,” she said.

Sergeant Coats has hired a lawyer and is considering suing Clive police if they can’t explain how this happened, and whether there are any safeguards in place to prevent it from happening in the future.

“We're concerned about if this happens to a person who has a criminal record, who doesn't have that instant credibility of being a Marine with an unblemished record, if it happens to someone else who might not be believed like she was,” said her attorney, Andy Heiting-Doane.

Clive police have declined to comment citing the potential lawsuit.