Richmond police officers on Sunday attempted to serve an arrest warrant to a Virginia lawmaker, but they had the wrong guy.
The bizarre sequence of events started Saturday night after Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottPandemic leads to sharp drop in school enrollment Democratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Watchdog: 7 members of Congress allegedly failed to disclose stock trades MORE (D-Va.) delivered a speech at the Virginia 5th District Annual Dinner in Lynchburg, Va. Instead of completing the more than three-hour drive to his home in Newport News, Scott checked into a Holiday Inn Central hotel in Richmond around midnight.
Scott, who described himself as "dead asleep" at the time, awakened, opened the door and spoke with the officers.
They asked him if his name was Robert Scott and he replied yes. The officers informed him they had an outstanding arrest warrant for a "Robert Scott" and requested two forms of photo identification. Scott said he gave the officers his driver's license and his congressional voting card.
Though his voting card states, "Robert C Scott, U.S. House of Representatives, Member of Congress" on the front side along with his photo as well as the seal of the U.S. House of Representatives on the backside, the police were more interested in his driver's license to ascertain his date of birth.
Scott, who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee crime, terrorism and homeland security subcommittee, was questioned about where he lived. The conversation ended shortly thereafter, according to Scott.
Scott, who will turn 63 on April 30, did not suggest that the police acted improperly, but is perplexed as to how the police knew that a Robert Scott was at the hotel at that particular time. He is also wondering if the officers had a specific description of the suspect they were looking for.
"I'm just curious and interested to see what description they had..." Scott said. "I'm curious as to how they got to the hotel room and what information they got to find out where I was. Most hotels are secretive about information.
"I'd be interested to know if there was probable cause regarding a description. Were the police looking for a 62-year-old black man who is 5'8?”
The nine-term lawmaker and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, who is also an attorney, is raising civil liberty concerns.
"At a hotel there is an expectation of privacy. They will connect you to a room if you call, but they will not tell you a room number," Scott said.
DeQuan Smith, who was the manager on duty at the Holiday Inn Central when the police arrived Sunday morning, said he informed the Richmond Police he would not disclose any information on a guest staying at the hotel.
Smith said he asked the police officers for more information, but instead was told he would be arrested if he did not tell the officers which room Scott was in.
Repeated calls to hotel General Manager Rasik Kotadia were not returned.
The Richmond Police Department would not disclose to The Hill how it obtained information regarding how they knew there was a person named "Robert Scott" was staying at the Holiday Inn Central in Richmond on Saturday night.
Richmond Police Information Officer Gene Lepley said, "We do thousands of these a year and we have thousands on file. This one just happened to mention a Robert Scott."
However, Lepley told Fox News that there is a city ordinance that permits police officers to review the names of hotel guests. The local law allows the police to compare the names to those with outstanding warrants.
A search on govwarrantrecords.org yielded a search result for 74 "Robert Scotts" across the United States, but only one in Virginia with an outstanding arrest warrant. That Robert Scott was born on April 23, 1971 and is listed as weighing 225 pounds.
Richmond police will not confirm whether this date of birth matches the Robert Scott they are looking for.
"The officers -- their job is not to evaluate the gentleman's age. Their job is to get a date of birth and see if it matches," Lepley added.
Mike Wallace, a spokesman in the office of Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, said he spoke with the mayor on the matter and said, "This was a case of mistaken identity. The police should have never served this warrant. The mayor and [Police] Chief Bryan Norwood are sorry for any inconvenience they caused the congressman."
Lepley indicated that the City of Richmond is very aggressive about warrants. He would not disclose a description of the suspect Robert Scott the police were in search of and said that clearly, the congressman was not a suspect in any criminal activity.