MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Mid-South mother is opening up after her son, a student at the University of Memphis, was falsely accused in a Fox Meadows carjacking.
Police say it was a case of mistaken identity.
Lakeisha Barnes says the past couple of days have been a nightmare for her and her family.
It all began Tuesday, when police posted a surveillance video of her son, Rodriquez Stewart Jr., 22, on Facebook, naming him a suspect in an Oct. 27 carjacking at Knight Arnold and Clarke.
The next morning, Barnes got a frantic phone call from her brother, who saw his nephew on the news.
“Of course you know your son from anywhere, so one sight of it, I jumped up out of the bed,” she said. “Every fiber in my body already knew that he wouldn’t do something like that, just by the person that he is.”
It turns out, she was right.
But police didn’t know that, and neither did the tens of thousands of people who saw his image plastered across their TV screens Wednesday.
Stewart turned himself in, volunteered to be finger-printed and spent eight hours being questioned by investigators.
“[He’s] never been in trouble, never has been into the system, and for him to even have to go into a place like that and sit down for those many hours and have to explain himself for where he was at from point A to point Z for at least eight hours — it was traumatic for my son,” Barnes said.
As a student with dreams of one day playing professional football, Barnes says her only concern was clearing her son’s name.
“We are hard-working Americans, Memphian-Americans,” Barnes said. “We go to work every day to make sure our kids get what they need and don’t have to go out to do those types of crimes.”
Police say evidence — likely those fingerprints Stewart provided — cleared him in the case.
“The male shown in this video was originally identified by the victim as the person responsible for the crime; however, after further investigation, VCU investigators and physical evidence revealed that he was NOT responsible,” MPD wrote in a Facebook post Friday. “Kudos to him for coming forward and providing additional details!”
As for the victim, Barnes says she has no hard feelings.
“It was such a horrific thing that happened to her. I hope it never happens to anyone,” Barnes said. “But it was still my son and it was horrific for him on the other hand.”
She says she’s just glad her family can get back to living their lives.
“This is getting put behind us now, so I’m very happy about that,” Barnes said.
No one else has been arrested in the case.