Orlando Man Sues After Krispy Kreme Glaze Leads To Meth Arrest

By McCarton Ackerman 10/27/16

Court documents allege that the officer didn't how to use the faulty drug testing kit that landed Daniel Rushing in jail over donut crumbs.

Orlando Man Sues After Krispy Kreme Glaze Leads To Meth Arrest
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An Orlando man was arrested last year for possession of meth. The problem? The supposed meth was actually the glaze from a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Daniel Rushing was pulled over for speeding last December by Cpl. Shelby Riggs-Hopkins. She found a “rock like” substance on the floor of the car and used a roadside drug testing kit, which twice recorded a positive test for methamphetamine. Rushing was arrested on a drug possession charge and bonded himself out after 10 hours. Weeks later, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) re-tested the substance and cleared him of the charges.

Rushing is now fighting back by suing the city of Orlando and the Safariland Group, which produces the kits the officer used. He is seeking $15,000 in damages. Rushing claimed he has been defamed due to his mugshot now being permanently on the Internet. Court documents also show him stating that Riggs-Hopkins didn’t know how to use the drug testing kit, blaming the city of Orlando for supplying officers with a product that is notoriously unreliable and stating that the police department should have waited for the FDLE to test the substance before arresting him.

Although the mistake was grossly incompetent, similar errors have been made elsewhere. Some faulty $2 drug tests used by officers have resulted in numerous unnecessary arrests and jail stints across the country. Even worse, they haven't been updated much since first being implemented in 1973. Although the chemical used, cobalt thiocyanate, will turn blue when exposed to cocaine, 80 other compounds from acne medication to household cleaners will also elicit the same reaction.

In Texas’ Harris County, 212 out of 301 arrests for drug possession between January 2004 and June 2015 came from evidence that a lab analysis later determined wasn’t a controlled substance. Even worse, it can sometimes take months or even years for these charges to be corrected, resulting in innocent people struggling to find employment or obtain housing during that time.

Some departments are taking steps to address the problem. Devon Anderson, the district attorney in Harris County, has begun refusing plea deals in drug possession cases before a report can be issued. But some former officials want departments to go even further and impose outright bans on roadside drug testing kits.

“Police officers are not chemists,” said former Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland. “Officers shouldn’t collect and test their own evidence, period.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.