Two years ago, a Florida man was arrested because police officers mistook the Krispy Kreme doughnut glaze in his car for methamphetamines. Now, after a lawsuit against the city of Orlando, he’s been awarded $37,500 in damages.
Daniel Rushing was pulling out of the parking lot of an Orlando 7/11 when he was pulled over by officers on a drug stakeout. When the officers looked at his wallet and saw a concealed weapon permit, they asked him if they could search the car. During their search, Cpl. Shelby Riggs-Hopkins reported that she saw “a rock-like substance” on the floor of the car. “I recognized through my 11 years of training and experience as a law enforcement officer the substance to be some sort of narcotic,” she noted.
When the arresting officers did a set of roadside tests, they came back positive for an illegal substance, and Rushing was arrested for possession of methamphetamine with a firearm charge. He was handcuffed and strip-searched, and spent 10 hours in jail before posting his $2,500 bond. “It was funny,” Rushing told NPR, “because I called my wife to tell her what happened, and the guy next to me waiting for the phone started to laugh. He said, ‘This is crazy. I think you got a really good lawsuit here.'”
Several weeks later, a test administered by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement determined that the glaze was not an illicit substance. Three days after the results were found, the State Attorney’s Office dropped the case, and Rushing decided to pursue a lawsuit.
The results of Rushing’s lawsuit come at a time when many are questioning the accuracy of roadside drug testing. Both the OPD and the FDLE said that they had no record of how many false-positives their drug testing produced, but a July report in the New York Times on FDLE data showed that 21 percent of methamphetamine tests resulted in a false positive.
And a recent case has thrust the accuracy of roadside drug tests back into the limelight. Earlier this year, Florida man Karlos Cashe was jailed for 90 days for possession of drywall dust in his car. Although the lab gave back negative results in May, it was another month until Cashe was released. Cashe, who is black, believes that the incident was a result of racial profiling. “I was going to jail for something that night, and what it was they decided it would be cocaine,” Cashe told reporters afterward.
When asked about his future, Rushing mentioned that he’d like to prevent situations like his from happening again. “I’m thinking about running for statehouse next year,” he told NPR, “And if I do, I’d like to get something done about these kits.” Despite his ordeal, he says he still treats himself to a Krispy Kreme every week. “But I don’t eat them in the car.”
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