The Methamphetamine Doughnut
Yes. This happened in Florida.
Daniel Rushing was arrested in December of 2015 for spilling doughnut glaze in his car. Stopped for a traffic violation, Rushing was promptly arrested when officers “discovered” crystal methamphetamine caked on the carpet of Rushing’s car. Clumsily, officers initially accused the substance of being crack cocaine.
But it was doughnut glaze.
Sugar and water.
Rushing pleaded with police officers, plainly saying the sludge in his car was simply a messy slip-up with a glazed doughnut gone rogue, but when officers tested the substance– twice– it came back positive for methamphetamine.
Rushing, astounded, was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, and held in jail for ten hours before making bail. Official testing conducted by a laboratory found no presence of any controlled substance in the sticky sample officers submitted as evidence. Prosecutors immediately threw Rushing’s case out, and prompted an new one:
Daniel Rushing is suing the city of Orlando and Safariland– the producer of the on-site drug testing kit which condemned him to jail.
ProPublica reports at least 21 percent of substances testing positive for meth in roadside testing kits are wrong– laboratory results illuminating harmless, perfectly legal substances.
Hundreds of Roadside False Positives Convert to Wrongful Convictions
The New York times reports from an investigation executed by ProPublica that there are strong indicators fault roadside drug tests administered by police officers have resulted in hundreds of false positive cases. ProPublica asks:
“Tens of thousands of people every year are sent to jail based on the results of a $2 roadside drug test. Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?”
The drug test kits officers rely on routinely to identify suspicious substances were initially manufactured in 1973, and have not since been updated to reflect current innovations in drug detection.
“The wrongfully convicted often pleaded guilty out of fear of significant time behind bars,”
Don’t Blame Officers Because They Don’t Know What Drugs Look Like
Sounds counterintuitive, because officers are inundated with drug stops and illicit paraphernalia all the time.
Whether right or wrong, officers are using outdated equipment– which isn’t their fault. If you want to riot, write letters to the higher-ups who say it’s okay to use outdated equipment putting innocent people behind bars, not the people who are just doing their job with the tools they’re provided.
Though, check out ProPublica’s findings for yourself, the case of false positives isn’t so cut and dry.