By Nick Smith
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO/CNN) - A California man says his life will never be the same after he was wrongly put on Oakland's "most wanted" list. He's now suing the city and police.
"A friend called me and said that I was on the news for a shooting. And I was like, 'This must be some practical joke,'" said Chau Van.
But Van wasn't laughing. He says his nightmare began in February 2012 when friends told him he was wanted for a shooting.
They had seen a mug shot from an unrelated incident in 2007, and he was being named as one of Oakland's "most wanted" criminals.
"I went home and checked the Internet and I was shocked, like 'Who done this to me?'" he said.
Flanked by his attorneys, John Burris and Dewitt Lacy, Van says he went to police to tell them they had the wrong guy.
He says he was quickly thrown in jail, three days later, he was released, never charged with a crime and never told why or how his name became the focus of a criminal investigation.
"I was shameful. I don't know what people were thinking of me," said Van.
Ten days after the ordeal began he says his name remained on Oakland's "most wanted" list, depicting him as a violent felon.
In fact, Van says he stayed on that list for six months.
In a federal suit, he claims the City of Oakland, Chief Howard Jordan, and members of the Oakland Police Department "placed him in constant fear for his safety," and as a result, he lives in a "state of embarrassment, depression and shame."
"Some kind of corrective action should have been taken, should've been an apology and efforts should have been made to have his name removed," said Burris.
The suit does not specify the damages Van is seeking and city attorneys will not discuss its merits.
"We really need to review the allegations and determine the facts before we can comment at all," said Alex Kats with the Oakland city Attorney's Office.
San Francisco-based KGO News says it reached out to the Oakland Police Department, which declined to comment.
It may ultimately be up to a judge to decide if Van's claims are true.