Every time Joshua Spriestersbach tried telling the doctors, nurses, and staff at a state hospital in Hawaii that they had the wrong man, no one listened and his protests were answered with drugs. After nearly three years, the blithering idiots running the hospital finally figured out their blunder and instead of fixing their mistake, they covered it up by quietly kicking Spriestersbach out on the street with only 50 cents to his name.
Now, after they tried covering up their mistakes, Spriestersback is suing and he will undoubtedly win.
In a lawsuit filed Sunday in U.S. District Court in Honolulu that Hawaii officials apparently seem unconcerned with their actions and haven’t even responded to a petition seeking to correct his records to ensure the error never happens again.
Spriestersbach’s lawsuit alleges false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, abuse of process and other claims, according to KHON.
“The Department of the Attorney General has not been served with the complaint and have not yet had the opportunity to review it with our client agencies,” Gary Yamashiroya, special assistant to the Hawaii attorney general, said Monday.
“Prior to January 2020, not a single person acted on the available information to determine that Joshua was telling the truth – that he was not Mr. Castleberry,” the lawsuit said. “Instead, they determined that Joshua was delusional and incompetent just because he refused to admit that he was Mr. Castleberry and refused to acknowledge Mr. Castleberry’s crimes.”
The Hawaii Innocence project is representing Spriesterbach and they asked the court to correct this innocent man’s life. The filing by the Innocence Project explains how the state was looking for a man named Thomas Castleberry and grabbed the first person they saw instead, Spriesterbach.
According to the report, at the time, Spriesterbach was homeless and hungry and was waiting in a food line in 2017 outside of a Honolulu shelter. The line was long and he fell asleep only to be roused awake by a cop who was arresting him. Spriesterbach though he was being arrested for breaking the city’s ordinance of laying down on the sidewalk but he was sorely mistaken.
That officer falsely claimed that Spriesterbach was Thomas Castleberry, who had a warrant out for his arrest for violating probation in a 2006 drug case. Spriesterbach and Castleberry had never met, yet police and every official involved with Spriesterbach’s wrongful kidnapping claimed he was Castleberry.
According to the Innocence Project, the incompetence of the police and hospital officials reached utterly criminal levels as all they needed to do to figure out that Spriesterbach was not Castleberry was to compare fingerprints or photographs — but none of that was done.
Instead, officials claimed Spriesterbach was insane for telling the state they had the wrong guy and he was committed to a state mental facility in Hawaii.
“Yet, the more Mr. Spriestersbach vocalized his innocence by asserting that he is not Mr. Castleberry, the more he was declared delusional and psychotic by the H.S.H. staff and doctors and heavily medicated,” the petition said. “It was understandable that Mr. Spriestersbach was in an agitated state when he was being wrongfully incarcerated for Mr. Castleberry’s crime and despite his continual denial of being Mr. Castleberry and providing all of his relevant identification and places where he was located during Mr. Castleberry’s court appearances, no one would believe him or take any meaningful steps to verify his identity and determine that what Mr. Spriestersbach was telling the truth — he was not Mr. Castleberry.”
The incompetence along the way was systemic. Even his public defenders chose to ignore him instead of simply running his fingerprints or looking at a photo.
Luckily, after spending nearly three years being drugged in a cage, Spriesterbach crossed paths with a competent psychiatrist who finally listened to him. According to the Innocence Project, all it took was a simple Google search to verify Spriesterbach’s identity.
The psychiatrist then called a detective to come to the hospital and the detective easily verified Spriesterbach’s fingerprints and photograph to determine the wrong man had been arrested and Spriestersbach spent two years and eight months institutionalized, the petition said. Even more insidious is the fact that at the time police arrested Spriesterbach — claiming he was Castleberry — Castleberry was already in jail, and had been there since 2016.
Instead of apologizing immensely to the man they had forcibly drugged and caged for nearly three years, officials moved secretly to cover up their incompetence. They held a secret meeting and decided to dump Spriesterbach out on the street with nothing to his name, betting on the fact that no one would believe him.
“A secret meeting was held with all of the parties, except Mr. Spriestersbach, present. There is no court record of this meeting or no public court record of this meeting. No entry or order reflects this miscarriage of justice that occurred or a finding that Mr. Spriestersbach is not Thomas Castleberry,” the court document said.
Police, the state public defender’s office, the state attorney general and the hospital “share in the blame for this gross miscarriage of justice,” the petition said.
After the hospital dumped him out on the streets again, Spriesterbach ended up in a homeless shelter who contacted his family.
Spriesterbach now lives with his sister in Vermont and is extremely shaken.
“Part of what they used against him was his own argument: `I’m not Thomas Castleberry. I didn’t commit these crimes. … This isn’t me,”‘ his sister, Vedanta Griffith, told The Associated Press, noting that she had spent nearly two decades searching for her brother. “So they used that as saying he was delusional, as justification for keeping him.”
“And then when light is shown on it, what do they do? They don’t even put it on the record. They don’t make it part of the case,” Griffith said. “And then they don’t come to him and say, `We are so sorry’ or, how about even `Gee, this wasn’t you. You were right all along.”‘
According to Griffith, Spriestersbach now refuses to leave his sister’s 10-acre property.
“He’s so afraid that they’re going to take him again,” she said.
This is not some simple mistake, this is gross incompetence of a callous system, with everyone along the way refusing to do their taxpayer-funded jobs. Instead of simply running a man’s fingerprints or looking in their system for a photo, they chose to lock him away and forcibly drug him for years. This is not some case of a bad apple framing an innocent man. This was the entire system — that constantly demands our trust and forces us to obey it — who couldn’t have cared less about kidnapping, caging, and drugging an innocent human being before discarding him like a piece of garbage.