LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Did Jeffersontown Police arrest a man with a mental illness in Virginia, bring him to Louisville and charge him with an armed robbery he did not commit? For almost two weeks, the man had been in custody and his family tells us, there's no way he committed the crime because they have proof he was committed at the time.
Wednesday night, WAVE 3 News was there as Steven Lawton walked with his Louisville attorneys to get his son out of jail. 24-year-old Rayshawn Lawton, a paranoid schizophrenic, has been behind bars at Louisville Metro Corrections since August 5. That's when he was arrested in Newport News, Virginia and brought to Kentucky after a Jeffersontown police investigation.
An armed robbery took place at the Happy China Restaurant May 10, 2011 on Taylorsville Road. Employees found Lawton's identification and believed the picture matched the man who stole $220 during the robbery. But his family said there is no way that was possible. Rayshawn Lawton doesn't carry a gun, but there was one more important fact.
"We have documents that show Rayshawn Lawton was actually in an institution in Virginia," said Tom Coffey, an attorney for the Lawtons.
The documents came from the Riverside Behavioral Health Center in Virginia, where Rayshawn was checked in.
"He clearly wasn't even in the state when it happened," Coffey said.
Dr. Steven Lawton told us the family was frightened after finding out Rayshawn had been taken to Louisville.
"You know, he's 600 miles away from home and all alone so, of course, you have to be worried about him," said Lawton.
Coffey and attorney Benham Sims say they don't know if someone stole the mentally ill man's ID but, are certain the police work was lacking.
"The family would have been more than cooperative and provided these records that show that he could not have committed this crime," Sims said.
Prosecutors agreed to release Rayshawn to his father. His dad understands mistakes, but with legal and travel bills to pay he wants some answers.
"That's the police department's responsibility to find out who took his ID and where is that person or persons that robbed that Chinese restaurant because the whole city is not safe with that person still out," said Lawton.
The family's lawyers believe the charges will be dropped once prosecutors fully investigate their case. The Commonwealth Attorney isn't talking about it until it is closed.
We also tried to contact Chief Richard Sanders of the Jeffersontown Police Department about the arrest, but were unable to reach him Wednesday night.