A 64-year-old Florida man is taking legal action against the city of Orlando after he was arrested by police officers who believed a substance found in his vehicle to be crystal methamphetamine. Although tests performed at the scene were positive for crystal meth, a later test by the state crime lab determined that the flakes spotted on the floorboard of the man’s car were not an illegal substance.
The incident began after he was pulled over last December for speeding and failing to completely stop as he exited the parking lot of a 7-Eleven. According to the officer who stopped him, police had received reports of drug activity at the store.
The man, who had retired after 25 years working for the Orlando parks department, told officers the flakes they saw were from a Krispy Kreme doughnut he had eaten in his car. He says, “I kept telling them, ‘That’s…glaze from a doughnut…They tried to say it was crack cocaine at first, then they said, ‘No, it’s meth, crystal meth.’”
The man was also arrested on a weapons charge even though he had a concealed carry permit. He says he was taken to the county jail where he was strip searched and detained for approximately 10 hours before posting $2,500 bond.
The charges have since been dropped. However, he said, “It feels scary when you haven’t done anything wrong and get arrested.”
It hasn’t been determined why the tests on the substance at the scene were positive. The Orlando Police Department says it has no way of knowing what percentage of its on-scene drug tests are false positives. However, according to a recent report in the New York Times, Florida Department of Law Enforcement data shows that over 20 percent of evidence identified by law enforcement as methamphetamine is not.
The man says that one thing he learned from the experience is never to give police permission to search his vehicle. He says that when the officer asked, he gave his consent because “I didn’t have anything to hide.” However, he says, “I’ll never let anyone search my car again.”
Even if law enforcement officers act in good faith, mistakes can be made. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced attorney who will work to protect your rights and to ensure that evidence is legally obtained and subject to proper investigation.