Dallas County Sheriff’s Office arrested wrong guy for off-duty Arlington officer’s death

FOX 4 News has learned the man arrested in February for a hit-and-run crash that killed an off-duty Arlington officer was released with all charges dropped.

Those charges were dropped just days after when a new arrest was made, but the Dallas County Sheriff's Office did not alert the public to the changes in the case.

There's now another suspect already in custody in another state for the September death of Arlington Police Officer Darrin McMichael.

Officer Darrin McMichael

Initially, Joshua Quintairo Watson was arrested on February 7, months after the crash. 

According to an affidavit, Watson’s cellular data connected him to the car that caused the crash, and a man named Ryan Luckett — whose cell data was also connected — admitted to being the passenger and told police that Watson was the driver.

Luckett provided specific details of the crash.

Ryan Luckett

However, five days later, he admitted that he was driving and killed Officer McMichael, according to an affidavit. 

A warrant was issued for Luckett. The charge against Watson was dropped. 

"When you make the arrest, that doesn’t mean that you stop the investigation. That’s when you actually continue the investigation and prove up the arrest," said Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown. "As we continued to prove up the arrest, then we indicated that the numbers weren’t matching, so to speak. And it was in an interest of justice that we drop the charges on the one individual and pursue the second."

At the time of the crash, Luckett was on parole in Mississippi for felony embezzlement charges. He was not allowed to leave Mississippi. 

Now, Luckett is in prison for violating parole. He’ll eventually be transferred to Dallas County for a charge of accident involving death. 

"We don’t know how soon. What we do know is he will be detained there," Brown said.

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office is just now releasing info about Luckett’s arrest and the wrongful arrest of Watson. Both happened in February. 

"It was a big deal when this initial arrest came down. Do you think the public deserved to know when it was realized that we got the wrong guy?" asked FOX 4 Reporter David Sentendrey. 

"I think that the public deserves to know that we were interested in doing what was right in terms of justice," Brown said.

The sheriff’s office says it does not expect to file charges against Watson, who was the passenger.

Alex Del Carmen is the associate dean of criminology at Tarleton State University and is not connected to this case. 

"I do think that the other person has a responsibility to have reported it. I don’t let the passenger get off that easily," he said. "But the question really remains, ‘Is the other person going to be charged with a crime?’ Or is that person cooperating with law enforcement to be able to prosecute the individual absolutely responsible for the incident."

"We’re just not, we do not participate pursuing any charges on the first individual," Brown said.

Because of Luckett’s parole violations, he is not expected to be released from prison in Mississippi until 2029. However, it’s unclear how this new charge will affect that.