Lucky Whitehead was fired by Cowboys after shoplifting charge that turned out to be a case of mistaken identity

Lucky Whitehead said all along that reports of him being arrested for shoplifting $40 worth of items from a convenience store were a case of mistaken identity. His claims did not stop the Dallas Cowboys from releasing the 25-year-old wide receiver on Monday.

A day later, though, police in Whitehead's home state of Virginia confirmed that the man charged with the crime gave a false identity and is not the former Cowboys player. The player’s full name is Rodney Darnell Whitehead Jr.

Prince William County police said in a statement on Tuesday: "Upon reviewing the June 22, 2017 arrest of an individual named ‘Rodney Darnell Whitehead, Jr.’, the police department is confident that the man charged with petit larceny, and who is subsequently being sought on an active warrant for failure to appear in court, is not Lucky Whitehead of the Dallas Cowboys.”

Reports surfaced Monday that Whitehead had been charged with that crime and with missing a related court date on July 6. Later that morning following the Cowboys’ first practice of training camp, Whitehead was escorted off the field by a member of the team’s public relations staff, even though he claimed he “didn't know about” the shoplifting case.

“No one had my back,” he told the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday. “I didn’t even get to clear my name. … I was pretty much being called a liar."

Police said in the statement that the man arrested in the shoplifting case did not have identification on him at the time of the incident, but told officers he was Rodney Darnell Whitehead Jr. and even provided a matching Social Security number and birthdate. That information was checked through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, which provided a photo that was compared to the man in custody.

“Officers acted in good faith that, at the time, the man in custody was the same man matching the information provided,” the department stated. “At this point, the police department is also confident in confirming that Mr. Whitehead's identify was falsely provided to police during the investigation. The police department is currently seeking the identity of the man involved in the incident.”

The department added that the player has been cleared of any crime and it “regrets the impact these events had on Mr. Whitehead and his family.”

Whitehead’s attorney, Dave Rich, said Monday that Whitehead was not even in Virginia at the time of the incident. He suggested Tuesday that his client was fired as a reaction to other off-field incidents involving Cowboys players this off-season.

"The Cowboys were looking for an example and it backfired on them," Rich told the Dallas Morning News.

Team executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones dismissed such a notion Monday.

“I don't think it's anything to do with anybody else,” Jones said. “We feel like we've given Lucky a lot of different chances along the way going back to last year and I think just decided it was time to go in a different direction.”

Whitehead was late to a Saturday walkthrough before a game in December and also did not inform coach Jason Garrett of his involvement in a car accident last year.

Rich told the Morning News he has had conversations with multiple teams about Whitehead and doesn’t expect the player to rejoin the Cowboys.

charles.schilken@latimes.com

Twitter: @chewkiii

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