“We are thrilled that Lucky was vindicated, his good name restored and the charges dropped and warrant rescinded,” Whitehead’s agent, David E. Rich, said in an email to The Washington Post. “Rich Sports never doubted his story for a second. He’s family and we were gonna have his back no matter what. I’m very disappointed in how this entire thing was handled from the first story to the authorities in D.C. to the employer. Lucky deserved better. Don’t we all when are surprised [by] an accusation out of left field? And those teammates in Dallas lost a good one … for no reason. There’s gonna be some lucky team in a day or so that gets themselves one hell of a player.”
The story is a bizarre one. Jonathan Perok, a spokesman for the Prince William police, said the suspect who was believed to be involved in a June 22 shoplifting incident did not have identification on him when he was initially stopped by authorities. He said the man gave officers a name, date of birth and Social Security number that matched those of Rodney Darnell Whitehead Jr. Police said the information the suspect gave at the time was also checked against that of Whitehead in the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles database. They compared the DMV photo to the suspect who was in custody.
“Officers acted in good faith that, at the time, the man in custody was the same man matching the information provided,” the department said in a statement.
But it wasn’t true.
The police statement, which was released Tuesday, went on, “At this point, the police department is also confident in confirming that Mr. Whitehead’s identity was falsely provided to police during the investigation.”
Meanwhile, police, Perok said, are looking for the suspect and working to get charges against Whitehead dropped. In its statement, the police department said it “regrets the impact these events had on Mr. Whitehead and his family.”
Whitehead and his agent had protested that he was not in the area at the time of the incident. On Monday, Whitehead had said this was a case of mistaken identity, telling Mike Fisher of Dallas’ 105.3 the Fan: “I don’t know who got arrested in Virginia, but it wasn’t me.” Whitehead said he “was in Dallas all that day until 11:20 a.m. It wasn’t me.”
On Tuesday, Whitehead questioned the timing of his release and told Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News that “I was pretty much being called a liar.”
As unusual as the story is, pro athletes are often targets for identity thieves and impersonators who are equal-opportunity scammers for stars and role players alike. Well-known names such as Vince Young, Ben Roethlisberger and Chad Johnson have been targeted, along with less recognizable players such as former Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jerame Tuman.
And the incident caps a bizarre few days for Whitehead, who last week claimed that his dog, Blitz, was being held for ransom. Although the facts surrounding that are tangled, the story ended with the happy reunion of Blitz and Whitehead.