LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4)– A 23-year-old Littleton woman spent four days in jail without bail and is being charged with two felony forgery counts in what she, her mother, and a former FBI agent say is a case of mistaken identity.
“I just want to go back to my life,” said Taylor Brookshire.
Brookshire, a nursing school student and restaurant hostess, was arrested November 12, 2014 after Denver Police issued an arrest warrant for Brookshire on two felony forgery charges. She spent two nights in the Jefferson County Jail then two nights in the Denver Jail before being released on bond.
“It was the scariest thing ever,” Brookshire said.
She had never been in jail before.
The arrest stemmed from an incident at a USBank in Denver six weeks earlier. On September 29, 2014, a woman entered the bank at 1100 South Broadway and attempted to cash a $695 check made out to Taylor Brookshire. The woman used a fake Ohio drivers license with Brookshire’s name and picture on it.
Brookshire told CBS4 she had used the fake Ohio license to drink years earlier when she was underage., but she said she gave the license to a friend more than a year ago and lost track of it.
Bank employees immediately suspected the check was a fraud. The suspect attempting to cash the check fled the bank when it became clear employees knew the check was bogus. She left the check behind along with the fake ID.
Police quickly tracked down Brookshire since the license had her name and photo on it. But when a DPD detective contacted Brookshire and her mother, Mary Kozlowski, they declined to cooperate with police and make any statements.
So, Denver police detectives went to the bank and showed employees a six-picture photo lineup containing a photo of Taylor Brookshire. The employees had apparently already seen Brookshire’s photo on the phony driver’s license. The teller who waited on the female suspect, Richard Kumi, “was unable to make an identification” according to a police report.
Two other bank employees who came into contact with the suspect picked Brookshire’s photo out of the lineup as the suspect in the bank September 29.
“They were wrong. People make mistakes every day. They misidentified her,” said Kozlowski.
Based on those two identifications, police issued a warrant for Brookshire and she was subsequently arrested.
After being released from jail, Brookshire and her mother began reviewing the evidence, including a slew of still photos from bank surveillance cameras. While Brookshire is 4-foot-10, squat and muscular, the suspect in the bank surveillance photos appears to be slender and significantly taller.
In one photo, the suspect is standing next to a bank employee who lists her height as 5-foot-1. The suspect, seen wearing flat boots, appears to be several inches taller than the bank employee, which would make her roughly three to five inches taller than Brookshire.
“She is definitely taller than me and her arms are way longer than mine,” said Brookshire. “I have no idea who that could be.”
Kozlowski says the pictures of the bank suspect don’t even resemble her daughter, “That is not my daughter in the bank video. They just rushed to judge and now they don’t want to admit they’re wrong.”
Earlier this month, Brookshire submitted to a polygraph test by Kenneth Vardell, a 30-year veteran of the FBI and a certified FBI polygraph examiner. Vardell asked Brookshire during the lie detector test if she was the woman at the bank or was involved in a scheme to cash the forged check. She replied no during the polygraph.
“It is the opinion of this examiner that the recorded responses are not indicative of deception, and that Taylor Brookshire was being truthful in her answers,” wrote Vardell.
In subsequent written statements obtained by CBS4, Vardell went even further, “The bank camera photos do not remotely resemble the Taylor Breann Brookshire that I met with and tested… after having met with Taylor and confirming her features physically, it is my opinion that, even with disguise, she could not be the person depicted in those bank camera frames.”
The bank photos obtained by CBS4 also show the suspect endorsing the phony check with her right hand. Brookshire is left handed.
A spokesperson for the Denver District Attorney’s Office said there would be no comment on the Brookshire case as it is an active, ongoing case. Mary Kozlowski says prosecutor Rebekah Melnick has made several plea bargain offers, even offering to drop the check forgery charge and allow Brookshire to plead guilty to owning a forged ID in exchange for giving Brookshire a deferred judgment.
To date, Brookshire has not accepted the prosecutor’s offers. She is due back in court June 8.
Questioned by CBS4, Brookshire said she did not work last September 29 and was not in class. She said she was not sure where she was when the bank incident took place.
“I just don’t want to relive it- I want it done and over with,” says Brookshire.
But the prosecutor has declined to dismiss the case.
Denver Police Commander Matt Murray defended the way his department and its detectives pursued the case. “The Denver Police Department had probable cause to arrest Ms. Brookshire at the time of this incident, and the same probable cause to arrest remains. The Denver Police Department was not provided any information that would indicate Ms. Brookshire was not the suspect in this case. Our goal in any investigation is to uncover the truth, we remain open to that goal and would be happy to investigate any pertinent information which can be provided to further this investigation.”
Brookshire’s mother calls the continued prosecution reckless and malicious, “The Denver DA is seeking to prosecute someone who is obviously innocent. That is not my daughter in the bank video. How do the police and DA not see that? They just rushed to judge and now they don’t want to admit they’re wrong.”