Helena McCurry will never forget the pain she felt when she watched police handcuff her son and take him to jail.
“It hurt me so bad,” she said. “There wasn’t anything I could do to help my son.”
Last Thursday at 4:15 p.m., a woman was robbed on the 1600 block of South 13th Street. The woman told police someone grabbed her purse from behind and dragged her down the street before running off. She also told police that McCurry’s son, 18-year-old Thomas Byrd, was the culprit.
Police quickly found Byrd and arrested him. While McCurry was able to get her son out of jail by posting bail, Byrd was still charged with robbery, reckless endangerment and other related offenses.
But it turns out, Byrd was innocent. At the time of the robbery, Byrd was in front of a store blocks away and a store security camera even had him on tape.
“I kept asking the cop if he could go into the store and look at the footage to see where my son was at and how long he had been there,” McCurry said. “He kept telling me I'd see my son in court.”
McCurry contacted NBC10’s Harry Hairston who checked out the surveillance video, verifying the accuracy of the time and date and proving Byrd’s innocence. McCurry says she took the video to a detective in the 1st District.
“He looked at it and said it did show he was at the store,” McCurry said. “But there wasn’t anything he could do.”
NBC10’s Harry Hairston went to police headquarters himself and showed police the tape. That’s when they took action.
“The District Attorney’s Office was notified and they’ll begin the process to make sure the charges against the male are being withdrawn,” Philadelphia Police lieutenant John Stanford said.
While Byrd is happy the charges will be dropped, he says the wrongful arrest has had a huge impact on him.
“I ain’t been able to sleep,” Byrd said. “I usually go to sleep at 10 o’clock. Now I go to sleep at 4 o’clock or 3 o’clock in the morning. I just hope this doesn’t happen to anybody else. If it wasn’t for the camera we would still be going through this.”
McCurry meanwhile, is thankful for Hairston’s help.
“If I didn’t call you I would still be going through it and nothing would have changed,” she said.
Police say they are currently investigating why the officers who were originally told about the video didn’t give the D.A. or detectives that information.