INDIANAPOLIS — For 45 minutes one morning last week, Michael D. Brock thought he was going to jail.
The eastside father of three sat handcuffed in his driveway, surrounded by Marion County Sheriff’s deputies who he says would not listen to his protestations that they had the wrong guy as three terrified children waited in the house and Brock’s only hope was that his wife would return from the store in time to convince the Warrant Team supervisor that they were making a mistake.
“They said they’re serving a warrant for breaking and entering and possession of methamphetamine,” said Brock. “’I don’t do anything like that. You’ve got the wrong guy.’”
When Christina Albers arrived home she told the deputies the same thing.
“’This isn’t him. I can tell you,’” Albers remembers telling the deputies. ”And then the officer just kept telling me, ‘There’s something he’s not telling you. There’s something you’re missing.’
“I’m like, ‘There’s no way. There’s absolutely no way that this is him.’ And they guy just kept telling me, ‘Maybe there’s something that you don’t know.’”
In reality, maybe there was something the Marion County Sheriff’s deputies didn’t know.
An anonymous tip brought the Warrant Team to Brock’s front and back doors that morning.
“Both officers…the K9 officer and the officer who came in through the back gate…put hands on me, immediately put me in handcuffs and put shackles on me,” said Brock.
The deputies said they had a warrant for the arrest of Michael Brock on a probation violation for a methamphetamine conviction.
Michael S. Brock has an open warrant.
The man in handcuffs in his driveway with crying children in the house was Michael Daniel Brock.
“They never even had the conversation with me,” said Michael D. Brock. “It was like every time I said anything it was like, ‘Yeah, okay,’ and they would go back to their conversation they were having on the sidebar.”
Brock said the deputies were more interested in swapping stories about their latest sniper training than they were about confirming who he was and it was only an IMPD officer, providing back up to the Warrant Team, who responded with the slightest explanation.
“He said it was a violation of probation so he said there was no bail posted.”
Michael D. Brock thought he was about to disappear into the Marion County Jail for something he didn’t do and not resurface into court for another week.
“They had already taken my ID, they had already taken my social security card,” said Brock, showing me the money clip he keeps his drivers license in. “They never even opened it and my ID’s on the front of it.”
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office told CBS4 News that the deputies confirmed Brock’s identity by stopping a home remodeler down the street and asking him if his friend was at the house.
“The Marion County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip from Crimestoppers of a wanted subject,” read a statement emailed to CBS4 News. “The information included his home address and place of employment. The MCSO Warrant Team confirmed there was a wanted subject by that name and went to the location listed as his home address. They showed a picture of the wanted subject to a citizen working at the residence, who reported he was inside the home. Mr. Brock was placed in handcuffs.”
Brock’s buddy is the one who called Christina Albers to warn her there were sheriff’s deputies at the house.
As soon as Christina arrived home, she confronted the supervisor who Brock said had been sitting in his car the whole time.
“I was like, ‘Do you have the warrant that I can look at?’” Albers recalled. “And they said, ‘We don’t have the warrant physically but you can come look at my computer.’”
The warrant that deputies showed Albers indicated that the Michael Brock they were seeking might be armed and dangerous.
“He said his birthday and I said right away, ‘That’s not his birthday,’ and he said, ‘Are you sure?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I am 100% positive,’ and they said, ‘Do you have his ID?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, you took it out of his pocket, you took it inside.’”
The money clip originally seized by the deputies was retrieved from inside the house and handed over to the supervisor who, with Brock’s social security card firmly now in hand, finally sought to confirm the identity of the man they had in shackles and cuffs on the ground.
“And he asked me what the last four digits of my soc was and I told him and he did one of these,” said Brock in an imitation of the supervisor’s exasperation, “and threw his hands up and turned around and said, ‘It’s not him.
“He turned back around and said, ‘Cut him loose.”
“Further investigation determined that he did work at the Greenwood-area restaurant that the Crimestoppers tip had alleged,” reads the MCSO statement to CBS4 News about Brock’s breakfast in custody, “but that he was not the same person as the wanted subject. He was released on the scene.”
“It’s not necessarily their fault that they were on my porch that morning,” said a magnanimous Brock who remembered that the deputies apologized for their mistake when I asked Brock where the deputies went wrong. “One, the fact that they never checked my ID card, two, they never handled the conversation, ‘Is this the right guy?’ That should be immediate.”
Brock said his children stopped crying and came out of the house to witness their father shaking hands with the deputies so that they would know there were no hard feelings.
The restaurant manager in training who estimates he works 70 hours a week to provide for a family of five including a one-year-old with an eating disorder who needs two hospital trips a week shudders to think what might have happened if he had been hauled away to the Marion County Jail that day.
“I can’t afford to take an attorney on especially after I lose my job. I don’t know what would have happened,” said Brock. “God, if everything would have gone right, I went down Tuesday and in a week they would have figured it out, what have could have happened to me in that week when I was in there? I don’t trust the system. I really don’t.”
After I told him there have been two murders inside the Marion County Jail in the last two weeks and that the jail has a history of losing track of offenders or holding them for days after their court ordered releases, Brock wondered if he would have survived, or what would have happened if his dog had fought with the police K9 in the backyard or if he had drawn his legally owned firearm to protect his home and defend his family from intruders.
“If anything would have happened differently, I could have been dead, my dog could have been dead, my children could have been injured.”
After my interview with Michael D. Brock, I drove 20 minutes to the home of Michael S. Brock who Marion County sheriff’s deputies should actually be trying to find.
He answered the door at my knock.
“Has the Marion County Sheriff ever come looking for you?” I asked.
“No,” said Michael S. Brock.
“How long have you been on the run from this probation violation?” I asked.
“February,” said Michael S. Brock.
“And in eight months, I’m the first guy who’s ever come looking for you?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Michael S. Brock.
Over the course of the next 15 minutes Michael S. Brock and I talked about the vagaries of the Marion County criminal justice system, how his own records are often in error, how he’s spent excessive time in jail after posting bond, how he’s been hiding in plain sight with his home address currently listed in public records and how he’s straightened out his life since violating probation last winter.
“I’m real sorry that other guy got arrested on my case,” said Michael S. Brock. “Tell him I apologize.”
“Not your fault he got jacked up, dude,” I said. “That’s on the sheriff’s office. You got your own problems to apologize for.”
Michael S. Brock politely denied my request to do an on-camera interview because he said he feared after the story were to air on TV that sheriff’s deputies would come the next day looking for him at the publicly published address where he’s been living since last February.
When I emailed the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and explained that while Michael D. Brock was thankful the deputies realized the error of their ways and corrected their mistake before taking the wrong man to jail, there were still questions about the lawmen ignoring his requests to review his identification, dependence upon his wife to secure oversight from a supervisor and the Warrant Team’s refusal to compare his appearance to Michael S. Brock’s mugshot.
“The MCSO doesn’t have anything to add to our previous statement,” was the response.
“I think there are a lot of people who are upholding the system need to be held accountable for,” said Christina who added she watches a lot of true crime shows on television. “Ask to see the warrant. Always ask to see the warrant. You never know what could be on there that could change the course of your day.”
Who put this entire potentially tragic and not-so-funny comedy of errors in motion that nearly wrecked the life of Michael D. Brock and his family?
Brock has an idea it was a neighbor with knowledge of law enforcement protocols and his personal life and MCSO records that fed the Warrant Team bad info which no one bothered to confirm despite his pleas.
“They had an innocent person and it’s not my job to prove my innocence. It’s their job to prove my guilt,” said Brock.
“It’s this kind of Gestapo mechanism.”