Woman Wrongly Arrested In Drug Sweep - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/29/04

Woman Wrongly Arrested In Drug Sweep

Regina Culpepper says she's never been in trouble with the law. But Wednesday, the Pearl River County woman says she experienced a real life nightmare when she was arrested in a county wide round up of suspected drug dealers.

Dennis Culpepper, Regina's husband explains what happened. "We were asleep and heard something beating on the door like it's tearing the side of the house down."

At around five Wednesday morning, Dennis and Regina Culpepper got a rude awakening.

"They were beating on it either with flash lights or batons. There are marks on it all up here where the door is beaten up, dents in it. I had a lock here where they were snatching on it. They pulled the lock off."

When the couple opened the door, there stood the police.

Regina told WLOX NEWS, "They said, 'What is your name?' and I said, 'Regina' and they said, 'Okay, put your hands behind your back. You're under arrest.' My husband said, 'What are you arresting her for?' and they said, 'For sales of a controlled substance.'"

"We told them from the minute they handcuffed her that they had the wrong person," Dennis said.

As the Culpeppers pleaded with police, their children and foster children watched.

"My daughter was hysterically crying cause she was looking out the window. My son was crying. The whole time I'm telling the police officers, 'This is wrong. Ya'll have the wrong person. Ya'll must have made a mistake.'"

Dennis Culpepper said no one listened and Regina was taken to the Pearl River County jail where her nightmare continued.

"They're standing there talking about showering you down and de-lousing you and cavity searching you. I have never been through nothing like that in my life. It was very humiliating and embarrassing. I was in shock. I couldn't stop shaking, when I got home my head was hurting so bad it felt like it was going to explode. I started having chest pains, I thought I was having a heart attack."

Law enforcers say the arrest was made with a valid indictment from the Pearl River grand jury, complete with Regina's name, date of birth and social security number. The Culpeppers say authorities let them see a copy of the indictment which alleged Regina and a man were videotaped in a drug deal a year ago.

The man named in the indictment is Larry Frank Hyatt , Regina Culpepper's brother. He was handcuffed and placed in the same patrol car with Regina Wednesday. Regina believes the woman on the tape was her sister in law.

"She's on probation, so she probably just told them my name."

"The one that they were looking for is about 5'2" and almost 400 pounds. She's about six foot and about a buck fifty," Dennis said.

The Culpeppers say they spent hours trying to convince law enforcers to review that undercover tape.

"Then they realized they had the wrong person," Dennis said.

"If he wouldn't have come up there and made them look at that tape, I might have went to prison for 30 years. That's what I thought was gonna happen," Regina said.

Regina says law enforcers apologized and sent her home, but the couple says an apology isn't enough. They want answers and some assurance that officers won't come knocking on their door again.

Sources confirmed to WLOX NEWS Regina Culpepper was released after a review of the undercover tape and consulting with District Attorney Buddy McDonald.

The drug case in question originated from the Picayune Police Department . Deputy Chief David Ervin told us, "We are working in good faith to resolve this issue through an investigation."

It's going to be up to the District Attorney's office and the grand jury to decide the outcome.

by Al Showers

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