Flagstaff tour guide sues airline for wrongful arrest

A Grand Canyon tour guide from Flagstaff says he was wrongfully jailed after being mistaken for a burglary suspect, according to a lawsuit filed in Texas.

Michael Lowe says he hasn’t spent much time in Tarrant County, Texas. The last time he was there was just for an hour to change planes.

In May 2020, it was flying from Flagstaff to Reno with a stopover at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

He didn’t know it at the time, but someone on that robbery was a burglary suspect wanted by police for attempting to rob a duty-free shop at DFW airport.

According to a lawsuit filed in Texas, Lowe was the one charged with the burglary.

“I traveled for the next 14 months not knowing these charges had been brought against me,” Lowe said in a zoom call with his online attorney.

Lowe discovered these accusations more than a year later.

While vacationing with friends in New Mexico on July 4, 2021, Lowe witnessed an altercation.

When police ran Lowe’s name through a law enforcement database, his outstanding warrant came to light. The police had no choice but to arrest him.

This led to over two weeks in jail for Lowe, a total of seventeen days. To make matters worse, Lowe said the bus he took back to Flagstaff broke down.

“I don’t feel like I’m the same person because after spending this time in prison, the horror of what I witnessed still haunts me,”

The lawsuit details Lowe’s time in prison as a nightmare with violent outbursts from inmates, witnesses to physical altercations and a lack of COVID-19 prevention measures that led to anxiety.

The lawsuit says Lowe was released from prison in New Mexico without any explanation.

Eventually, DFW Airport Police compared security video footage of the store burglary suspect with Lowe’s photo in New Mexico and determined that Lowe was not the person in the video.

According to airport police records, it was American Airlines security who provided Lowe’s name to police.

“They didn’t comply with the search warrant. The search warrant asks for the manifesto that they decided to play detective instead of flying planes,” said Scott Palmer, Lowe’s Dallas attorney.

American Airlines sent us a statement in response saying in part: “As required by law, American is cooperating and responding to court orders to obtain information related to possible criminal activity, and that is what we have done in this case when we were presented with a search warrant.”

ABC15 has contacted DFW Airport Police and has yet to receive a response.

It is not known if the burglary suspect was ever arrested.