Florida Handyman Jailed After Police Mistake Drywall for Cocaine

By Kelly Burch 06/29/17
“I sat there 90 days knowing I was innocent,” Cashe said.
Karlos Cashe
Karlos Cashe Photo via YouTube

A Florida man spent 90 days in prison after police mistook white powder from drywall for cocaine during a traffic stop. 

Karlos Cashe, of Oviedo, Florida was stopped for driving without his lights, a routine traffic violation. However, the stop quickly became more serious when an officer noticed white powder on his seat and on the floorboard. Police tested the substance in the field and said that it was crack cocaine. Cashe, however, maintained his innocence. 

“I know for a fact (that) it’s drywall because I’m a handyman,” Cashe told WFTV. “I said that continuously during the arrest stop.”

A K-9 unit was called to the scene and alerted on Cashe’s car, which can often indicate the presence of drugs. An officer tested substances that he thought were cocaine and marijuana, and the tests came back positive. 

At that point, Cashe was taken to Seminole County Jail for a parole violation. He was on probation at the time on marijuana and cocaine charges from 2015, for which he pleaded no contest. He said that that experience should have shown officers that he was telling the truth. 

“Look at my record. If I get in trouble I’d plead to it,” he said. 

Because he was found to be violating his parole, Cashe was denied bond and held in jail. However, he was released when testing from the state lab showed that there were no drugs in his car during the stop. 

“I sat there 90 days knowing I was innocent,” Cashe said.

A law enforcement analyst told WFTV that a K-9 unit can falsely alert to the presence of drugs, usually because the handler misunderstands the dog’s signal. However, that is rare, the expert said. 

Cashe is calling for the Oviedo Police Department to conduct an internal investigation into what went wrong during his traffic stop.

“This is what I want to stop,” he said. “I don’t want this to happen to anybody else.”

The police department did not comment.

Federal officials report that more cocaine is coming into Florida than ever before. Florida Customs and Border Protection seized 61% more cocaine in 2016 than it did in 2015. 

“We’ve never seen cocaine production at these numbers, which tells you there is more cocaine being produced now than at the height of the Medellín and Cali cartels,” Justin Miller, intelligence chief for the DEA’s Miami field division, told The Sun Sentinel. “That’s significant.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.