DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado man wrongfully arrested and forced into a months-long legal battle has had his case dismissed, but it has left him in a “mountain of debt.”
Joshua McCay and his wife Lindsay made their home in Windsor and last year welcomed their first child.
“Quiet, just blue collar, 9-5. Work, come home, eat sleep … living the dream type of deal,” McCay said.
He could never have imagined that would change.
On Aug. 31, Douglas County deputies were involved in a high speed chase. The vehicle got away but the license plate number led investigators to three people. All three admitted they were in the car during the pursuit but they told investigators that “Josh,” a homeless man they met at a King Soopers grocery store, was driving.
“I was reading through the statement, the one guy said ‘We think the driver’s name is Josh or he might have been Eric and his last name is McCune or McCoy or McCay,'” McCay said.
“That’s what they went on,” he said in disbelief.
CBS4 tracked down one of the people involved in that chase. She agreed to a phone interview and admitted to making the whole thing up about the homeless man and his name.
“Someone said ‘Oh, since the cops don’t know who was driving let’s just come up with a fake name and we’ll tell them it was him and they’ll never be able to catch the guy because he isn’t real,” she said.
However, when deputies put the name “Joshua McCay” into the DMV database, Joshua McCay, in Windsor, came up along with his driver’s license photo.
Despite pulling the name out of thin air, when they were showed the photo of McCay, two of the suspects plus a deputy agreed that was the driver.
“It didn’t look like a real picture. It looked like something that they had thrown together, like a Photoshop picture with what we had said.”
According to court documents obtained by CBS4, that information was the basis for a felony warrant that was issued for McCay.
He would only learn about the case and the warrant through contact with the DMV. Unsure what to do, he turned himself in.
“That was the first night I spent away from my son, and it was in jail,” McCay said.
Despite having his wife as an alibi, GPS on his phone and truck and a Fitbit log showing his sleep patterns that night in his Weld County home, he was forced into a devastating legal battle.
Just before the trial all of it was dismissed.
“I would say it’s the third most incredible moment of my life short of getting married and having my son,” McCay said.
McCay would never know exactly why the case was thrown out. The judge would only say it was in the “best interests of justice.”
It likely had something to do with the woman CBS4 spoke with who claims she came forward.
“I very truly regret lying and saying what I said. I didn’t know he was real and I didn’t know he would be affected so much by a stupid decision me and my friends made,” she said.
McCay and his wife say hearing that does bring some closure, but it doesn’t change the harm done to his family.
“We just want our life back. Financially we are in a mountain of debt over it. But on top of that we want Douglas County courts and sheriffs to do better,” he said.
After the case was dismissed, McCay had the case sealed to protect his record. When CBS4 asked for comment from the Douglas County Sheriff’s office, as well as the courts, they would only say they have no record of the case.
LINK: McCay GoFundMe Page
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.