back to article What a meth: Woman held for 3 months after cops mistake candy floss for hard drugs

A woman spent three months behind bars because she couldn't afford the $1m bond slapped on her for suspected possession and trafficking of methamphetamine. That sounds reasonable enough for a horrific drug – just check out these before-and-after tweaker snaps – except that the substance Georgia cops pulled from 64-year-old …

  1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    obviously that was some of Heisenberg's finest methamphetamine right there. Right?

    In principle, there's some uncertainty about that

  2. JimmyPage Silver badge
    WTF?

    How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    She's in for a big payout ....

  3. Paul Johnson 1

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    Unfortunately, probably not. The doctrine of qualified immunity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualified_immunity) says that the police could reasonably pull them over, and then notice that there was a bag on the floor which they might reasonably suspect contained drugs, and then arrest them on that suspicion. Everything that happened after that is just routine muddle. There *might* be a case for damages for the two weeks she was held after evidence was found that she was innocent, but I don't know enough about the law; it might have been her responsibility to file a writ of habeas corpus to get released.

    So in short, tough luck.

  4. elDog Silver badge

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    And how much will the officers and other state employees have to pay?

    $0.00

    How much will the taxpayers need to cover for the ineptitude of the LEO?

    I hope a bunch (because this is Georgia.)

  5. A.P. Veening

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    That payout is one thing, but the authorities won't learn from it. All of Georgia's "finest" involved should get a dishonorable dismissal without pension, just to encourage the others.

  6. A.P. Veening

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    "and then notice that there was a bag on the floor"

    But that bag wasn't on the floor, but beneath it, so it wasn't directly visible. Besides that, it shouldn't take a competent chemist more than a couple of hours to determine it wasn't any classified drug but sugar instead of a couple of months. Those two weeks were just adding insult to injury.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    @JimmyPage

    Hey Gomer, "Do ya think this is drugs or sumptin?"

    "I don't know Sarge, how far behind are we on da quota?"

    She clearly deserves to win, and some TALL cash too!

  8. Calin Brabandt

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    >Unfortunately, probably not. The doctrine of qualified immunity ...

    Actually...most emphatically and most certainly YES; guaranteed rights were violated! No law trumps the U.S. Bill of Rights and Constitution, including qualified immunity. Any law that does so is illegitimate--even if the Supremes rule the law to be otherwise. As with lawmakers creating such laws and the police enforcing them, the Supremes are also violating their oaths to uphold the U.S. Constitution and they are illegitimate too. This case is only one of countless modern examples of the "usurpation" of the U.S. Constitution. The violations are rapidly rising in number and frequency and, as Thomas Jefferson said, the Peoples' "rightful remedy" is nullification. Failing that, the solution lies only very sadly with "the militia" (a ubiquitously armed people) and succession, which is also the plan of the founding fathers of the United States. At some point, the entire government becomes illegitimate. It's unfortunate that the "Ron Paul Revolution" did not gain traction. It was probably the last chance to turn back the clock to a time when liberty was the defining characteristic of the country. (The definitive characteristic was never democracy, BTW.) I don't think We The People are going to be able to vote themselves out of the growing tyranny these days.

  9. DougS Silver badge

    @eDog - why should the taxpayers be on the hook?

    IMHO police officers should be required to carry liability insurance, for when they do something like shooting an unarmed black man whose family sues for a few million dollars. That way the ones who do that sort of thing will be forced out because the department won't want to employ someone whose insurance costs more than the next dozen officers.

    Better yet the bad officers won't simply be able to go two towns over and get a job, their high rates would follow them around so no one will hire them and they'll have to find another occupation where they can't do as much damage.

    Something like this woman's false imprisonment would be covered by overall departmental insurance, and hopefully the taxpayers would force changes in the department if their rate (as compared to similar departments) got too high from fiascos like this or because they have too many officers with personal claims made against them.

  10. Trixr

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    Apparently the cops *asked* to search the vehicle, and then discovered the "suspicious" bag. Which is why you do not say yes to any opportunistic requests for a vehicle search.

  11. Trixr

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    Oh, here we go. You Americans often seem to forget the words "well regulated Militia", and there is considerable debate as to what that means. "Ubiquitously armed" is a very extreme interpretation in one direction. I don't even think Scalia went that far.

  12. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    @Calin, Sadly, no matter how much you and I agree that rights were violated, neither of our opinions matter, per the Constitution. You can't pick and choose the "rights" without the "courts"!

    And in any case, it's hard to see what bright line of the Constitution was violated. The Rights are to due process, reasonable cause, etc. etc. and while you and I agree that the interpretation currently given to those concepts is farcical, it's hard to argue that the farce is impermissible. Yes, the cops had reasonable grounds (based on their crap field test kits). Yes, the defendant was "in the system", with a bail hearings before a judge, etc.even though the bail demanded was abhorrent. But "i"s were being dotted, and "t"s crossed, and the concept of qualified immunity is essential, even if the current application is abhorrent.

  13. Christoph Silver badge

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    "Which is why you do not say yes to any opportunistic requests for a vehicle search."

    Which annoys the police because they now have to keep you hanging around while a drug-detecting dog is fetched, so they can give it the covert signal telling it to do a false 'alert' and then have 'reasonable suspicion' to do a forced search of the vehicle.

    The outcome of annoying the police is not likely to be fun for you.

  14. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    A dog might be better than their 'testing kit' *something akin to that 'explosives tester' that some charlatan from the Uk made£20m+ in peddling to inept middle eastern governments (it was a modified golf ball locator - that didn't work either)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    "It was probably the last chance to turn back the clock to a time when liberty was the defining characteristic of the country"

    You mean, back when slavery was legal?

  16. gnarlymarley

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    . . . but the authorities won't learn from it.

    The problem here is folks want tighter restrictions for lawbreakers, but want looser restrictions for themselves. Most of us know there is some gray area where the two lines cross. We cannot get rid of this gray area just by saying so. It will always be here. Your choice is to capture the innocent OR to release the guilty. You cannot have the gray area be smaller than it currently is. Now if only folks could realize that, they would probably lean on the side that folks might actually be innocent rather than guilty first.

    A side note, that this idea actually applies to the whole world and not just Georgia or the USA.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    I would argue that having a woefully inadequate field test kit makes the whole thing unreasonable.

  18. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Re: @eDog - why should the taxpayers be on the hook?

    "

    IMHO police officers should be required to carry liability insurance, for when they do something like shooting an unarmed black man whose family sues for a few million dollars.

    "

    No - that would end up costing the taxpayer even more. The insurance companies will obviously set the premiums so that they still make a profit (across the whole country), and so the taxpayer will be paying not only for the pay-outs of the lawsuits but for the yachts and private jets of the directors of the insurance company as well.

    Insurance for an individual makes sense (risk is distributed across all the policy holders). But insurance makes no sense whatsoever if you are a very large national entity because it is bound to cost more.

  19. Crazy Operations Guy

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    "It was probably the last chance to turn back the clock to a time when liberty was the defining characteristic of the country"

    But things kinda sucked for everyone in 1491...

  20. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    "I would argue that having a woefully inadequate field test kit makes the whole thing unreasonable.""

    This! A 100x this! If the "field test kit" can confuse candy floss with Meth and give a false positive, then it's not fit for purpose. The manufacturer should be on the hook big time for this failure, along with the rest of the system.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    It is reasonable for a lab to take 10 weeks to figure out that the suspected meth is just sugar? It is reasonable to withhold treatment for her ailments?

    It might all be right on the procedurals, but the time frames seem iffy.

    I honestly wonder about her skin pigmentation. My guess is "off-white".

  22. Spazturtle Silver badge

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    "It is reasonable for a lab to take 10 weeks to figure out that the suspected meth is just sugar?"

    Yes, the number of items that need testing with peak and dip over time, so at some points of the year there will be a backlog. Also some items will be higher priority then others, evidence that decays and evidence relating to an urgent investigation (such as a kidnapping) will be processed first.

    The issue here was that they detained her before the testing had been done, they had her address and knew she had a large network of family and friends in the area, there was no need to detain her until the testing was done. She should have been released and only charged if the tests came back positive.

    "It is reasonable to withhold treatment for her ailments?"

    No, absolutely not, they have a duty of care towards everyone in their charge.

    "I honestly wonder about her skin pigmentation. My guess is "off-white".

    Your guess is wrong. Image from the BBC

  23. NLCSGRV

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    Your guess couldn't be more wrong. And before you jump to another mistaken conclusion, her boyfriend is also white.

  24. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

    You Americans often seem to forget the words "well regulated Militia",

    It means that, in order to be able to assemble a "well regulated" military unit quickly and readily, the citizens should be armed and able to use those weapons effectively. Not that they are already *in* a militia/military unit, but that they should be capable of forming one when needed.

  25. macjules Silver badge

    Re: @eDog - why should the taxpayers be on the hook?

    IMHO police officers should be required to carry liability insurance,

    Good luck recruiting police officers with that hanging over their heads.

  26. Crazy Operations Guy

    Re: @eDog - why should the taxpayers be on the hook?

    "Good luck recruiting police officers with that hanging over their heads.'

    The medical industry seems to do just fine with such a restriction. But if they fear having their premiums go up due to their behavior, maybe they shouldn't be police in the first place...

  27. DougS Silver badge

    Re: @eDog - why should the taxpayers be on the hook?

    People who drive for a living have to carry insurance, even in states that don't require insurance for personal driving. Why should cops be exempt?

    As for the idea it will increase cost because insurance companies want to maintain a profit, that's only true if you assume that cops will act with as much disregard for the law as they do now. If they face the loss of their job when too many complaints for excess brutality etc. are made against them, they won't do the things that currently result in payouts. Once you weed out the bad cops because they lose their jobs or quit because they only joined the force for the wrong reasons, the insurance rates shouldn't be all that high for experienced cops with clean track record.

  28. IceC0ld Bronze badge

    cannot be JUST me

    who is thinking that THE best way to transport 'Crank' is to wrap it around a wooden stick, and get a little kid to carry it ffs :o)

    the wooden stick is how we Brits consume said 'cotton candy'

    two nations divided by a common language :o)

  29. holmegm

    What?

    'the officers asked to search the car and found "a large, open clear plastic bag which contained a light blue substance, spherical in shape" beneath the vehicle's floor.'

    She was storing cotton candy "beneath the vehicle's floor"?

    Secret recipe?

  30. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Re: What?

    Not "secret recipe" or "storing"... more like lazy housekeeping. I see lots of cars everyday piled high inside with trash. Many times (not most) the stuff is up to the windows in the back seat.

  31. eldakka Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: What?

    Not "secret recipe" or "storing"... more like lazy housekeeping. I see lots of cars everyday piled high inside with trash. Many times (not most) the stuff is up to the windows in the back seat.

    I resemble that remark!

  32. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Re: What?

    "beneath the vehicle's floor" = under the floor covering (possibly even under an accessory mat). Easy place for a discarded bag containing practically nothing to end up.

  33. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Oops

    I see the same point has been made multiple times before. And it was "in the floor board" whatever that means.

  34. MiguelC Silver badge

    "The moral of the story? Ensure every suspicious nook and cranny of your motor is clear of anything even remotely resembling a controlled substance. Even a little taste test would have had this whole sorry episode licked."

    Erm, no, the moral is never to visit the U. S. of A.

    I thought that was perfectly clear by now!

  35. hellwig Silver badge

    Re: I thought that was perfectly clear by now!

    Our president says as much any time a person of color walks into his line of sight. Not sure why anyone would still want to come here.

  36. cornetman

    "The moral of the story? Ensure every suspicious nook and cranny of your motor is clear of anything even remotely resembling a controlled substance. ...."

    My thoughts run along similar lines to the comments above, but to take away that advice from this story is quite honestly horrifying. So no shopping for bags of sugar, or flour? Sorry kids, you can't have candy floss; it's too much of a risk? Just in case some idiot, power drunk cops pull you over and decide that you're going to spend the next few months in the nick?

    That's seriously f*cking messed up.

  37. Eddy Ito Silver badge
    Stop

    The moral of the story is don't ever help the police. The cops gave up any reasonable suspicion once they admitted the windows were fine so when they ask to search your car, because they're bored and want to go fishing, the correct response is "no". It's also best to follow it up with "am I free to go?"

  38. JohnFen Silver badge

    "Erm, no, the moral is never to visit the U. S. of A."

    And for those of us who live in the US, it's wise to avoid traveling to or through a whole bunch of states.

  39. A.P. Veening

    Re; Moral

    "And for those of us who live in the US"

    I strongly suggest to get out while you still can.

  40. DougS Silver badge

    Taste test?

    You've been watching too much TV. Cops don't taste suspected drugs to see if they are drugs in the real world!

  41. Pseu Donyme

    Re: Re; Moral

    >I strongly suggest to get out while you still can.

    Indeed: a border wall paid for by the Mexicans is starting to look increasingly likely. Not on the US side of the border though.

  42. Skribblez

    “The moral of the story is don't ever help the police. The cops gave up any reasonable suspicion once they admitted the windows were fine so when they ask to search your car, because they're bored and want to go fishing, the correct response is "no". It's also best to follow it up with "am I free to go?"”

    Amen. Even as a mature, white male the cops are not your friend, so the common sense rules apply to everyone. Do not talk to them. Do not volunteer information. Do not give them permission for anything, and ask to leave as soon as you can.

    NWA had it right...

  43. A.P. Veening

    Re: Border wall

    "Indeed: a border wall paid for by the Mexicans is starting to look increasingly likely. Not on the US side of the border though."

    I am pretty surprised there isn't a border wall yet on the Canadian border, paid by the Canadians.

  44. Wilco

    The Met or South Yorkshire police (to name but 2). Doubtless some are fine. Many are one or more of lazy, incompetent, racist and badly lead

  45. Petergwilson

    Re: Border wall

    The Canadian wall would only have to be a couple of feet high. Most Americans wouldn't be able to climb over that.

  46. JohnFen Silver badge

    Re: Re; Moral

    "I strongly suggest to get out while you still can."

    Well, firstly, I'm a USian through and through, and consider it my duty as a citizen to stick around and try to do what I can to improve my country and the lot of my fellow citizens.

    But, even if that weren't the case, where would I go? There are very few nations that accept American immigrants unless they are wealthy or have a special skill that the nation is badly in need of.

  47. Nick Stallman

    Re: Taste test?

    Nonsense. Of course professional law enforcement taste strange white powders they find.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-21/parliament-white-powder-mystery-deepens-with-claims-footage-gone/9781330

  48. Marty McFly
    Coat

    Re: I thought that was perfectly clear by now!

    "Our president says as much any time a person of color walks into his line of sight. Not sure why anyone would still want to come here."

    His very first act upon taking office was to kick a black family out of government housing where they had lived for the past 8 years. I am surprised it wasn't that big of a deal as it was all over the news at the time. Trump personally escorted Obama off the property.....

  49. Spanners Silver badge
    Pirate

    Re: Border wall

    The Canadian wall would only have to be a couple of feet high.

    Make a metre and label it so. This will keep the rednecks away as they don't know what that means!

  50. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Re: Re; Moral

    "But, even if that weren't the case, where would I go?"

    Well, don't look at the UK, we're doing well in the same race to the bottom.

    If you find an answer, let me know!

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