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. Maty

    Re: Border wall

    Let's assume this suggestion is halfway serious.

    So we're building a border wall. A lot of this is in pretty rough territory that you first have to build access roads for to get the construction materials in. Secondly, imagine building a wall from Paris to Moscow.

    The Canada/US border is not that long - it is four times longer. In fact because the border is not straight, and there's factors like Alaska to take into consideration, you are seriously looking at the equivalent of building a wall well over a third of the way around the earth.

    By way of comparison, Hadrian's wall would get one sixth of the way across British Columbia, with all of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba before we get to the Great Lakes ...

    Much cheaper to just import refugees from the US as we are currently doing - at a cost of CAD 400 million per year. (Seriously)

  2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Re: Border wall

    You could throw in the "infinite length coastline" argument there too!

  3. Myvekk

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

    "Does my travel insurance cover false arrest, & at least 3 months of false imprisonment?"

  4. Sykowasp

    Well if the police thought that a $1M bond was required for this charge, then it should go both ways - their mistake should cost them $1M. Maybe that would make them think first.

    Also this 'phishing' vehicle search seems horribly suspect to me in the first place. They had no reasonable basis to perform a vehicle search, but maybe Americans don't have any personal rights anymore in their nigh-on police state these days.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well if the police thought that a $1M bond was required for this charge,

    Well that's one constitutional violation .... ".... excessive bail ...."

  6. Paul Johnson 1
    Big Brother

    Pretextual traffic stops

    Unfortunately that is the law in the USA these days. https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/08/03/how-the-supreme-court-made-it-legal-for-cops-to-pull-you-over-for-just-about-anything

  7. AndrueC Silver badge
    Meh

    Re: Pretextual traffic stops

    The police in the UK have long been able to stop any vehicle for any reason. That includes simply wanting to see your license so being behind the wheel pretty much gives them the right to stop you. But since 2016 they've also been able to search you.

    Vehicle stop and search introduced.

    However it's highly unlikely that you would be held in custody for three months and you certainly wouldn't be asked to pay money to regain your freedom. Mostly likely, an overnight stay, some questioning then released on Police bail pending enquiries. Even if it took three months to determine that the stuff wasn't drugs you'd still probably only spend a night in the clink and might have no expense other than a taxi if they seized the vehicle.

  8. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Re: Pretextual traffic stops

    not if you want your vehicle back...

  9. Public Citizen

    At a minimum treble damages apply and 10x damages are not out of order.

  10. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Pretextual traffic stops

    >Even if it took three months to determine that the stuff wasn't drugs

    The difference in the uk is that the lab would determine that it WAS drugs

    The labs were privatised. They now bid on Police work, the 'customer' makes it quite clear that the contract renewal depends on producing helpful results. If you keep finding people innocent the police will find another lab next time.

  11. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    if the police thought that a $1M bond was required for this charge

    My understanding is that bail is set by a judge. Maybe things are different in Georgia (or more precisely, maybe this is one of the many things that are different in Georgia), but in the states I've lived in, the police don't set bail.

    That said, I agree the bail was ridiculously high, and every other facet of this case stinks. Unfortunately, thanks to qualified immunity, there's no reason to believe anyone involved on the law-enforcement side will suffer any significant consequences from this. Policing in much of the US has largely become an extortion racket (see for example civil forfeiture) and sop to paranoid "law and order" voters, with the enthusiastic support of federal, state, and local governments.

  12. MonkeyCee Silver badge

    profilling

    "because the cops thought the tinting on the car windows was too dark."

    That's the best racial profiling euphemism I've heard this week :D

  13. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Re: profilling

    That's one odd profile.

  14. DougS Silver badge

    Re: profilling

    I find it very interesting that the title of the piece calls out that she's a "white woman". Maybe they are trying to make up for how for years news stories would always specify when suspects were black, but not mention their race when they were white. I see that in my local paper all the time, and I live in a pretty liberal university town.

  15. Trixr

    Re: profilling

    To be fair, I initally thought it sounded like a classic case of them being pulled over for "driving while black", so the clarification was useful in that sense. Then again, we don't know the ethnicity of the boyfriend, or the appearance of the car. It could be a case of "driving while poor".

  16. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Re: profilling

    @DougS: It was Newsone and if you check their About Us page you'll see it starts with

    NewsOne.com is your destination for news and information for and about Blacks in America.

    @Trixr: The linked article has the dashcam video which at 0:34 shows both occupants and the vehicle with the open trunk in the background.

  17. A.P. Veening

    Re: profilling

    QUOTE

    I find it very interesting that the title of the piece calls out that she's a "white woman".

    END-QUOTE

    That title mentions her colour/race in combination with "innocent", so there is still profiling going on, just a little bit more subtle.

  18. tim 13

    Re: profilling

    perhaps wit was the window tinting, they thought she was black from outside the car, but when they realised she was white they din't shoot her, just arrested her.

  19. NLCSGRV

    Re: profilling

    Sorry to burst your virtue-signalling bubble, but toth the woman and her boyfriend are white.

  20. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Holmes

    Why so long??

    Given that most hospitals have a lab on speed dial that can identify pretty much any suspicious substance in a matter of minutes, why did it take 3 months to run the test.

    Even if you assume that 1 of those months was just wasted on bureaucratic nonsense that still leaves 2 months A.W.O.L.

  21. elDog Silver badge

    Re: Why so long??

    Because it took three months to come up with a cover story. Maybe they also felt they could shake some money and a guilty plea out.

  22. teknopaul Bronze badge

    Re: Why so long??

    Simple and cheap ph test should have been done. Love to know what the road side test is that can be so obviously wrong.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    She was possibly fortunate that no one tried to cover up the blunder by substituting the real thing.

    In 1964 a celebrated UK Met detective was finally caught fabricating evidence by an astute defence lawyer. It was claimed a respectable protester had had a specific piece of brick in his pocket when arrested at a demonstration. Analysis of the man's pockets showed this to be untrue.

  24. Paul Johnson 1

    Taste test for drugs

    Even American cops are not dumb enough to taste suspected drugs. https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FingertipDrugAnalysis

  25. iron Silver badge

    " found... beneath the vehicle's floor"

    Who keeps legal things under the floor of their vehicle? Sounds to me like there is more to this story than the people involved are admitting.

  26. Monty Cantsin

    My S-Max has 2 under-floor storage areas in the middle row (and another in the boot when the 3rd row seats are up. My kids regularly fill them with toys, banana peels, sand and anything else they can get their grubby hands on.

    The only thing unbelievable about candyfloss beings stored there is that kids will eat their own body-weight of the stuff, so it's unlikely that they would stuff it into a hole in the floor instead of the hole in their face. However some are squirrel like, and will stow sugary treats for future consumption.

  27. Shady

    It might not have been underneath the "floor", afterall, what's underneath the floor of car is the road.

    More likely this was found in the spare wheel well, or under a carpet, or if an older car, wedged into a seam underneath a seat, which by very loose definition any cop could say was "hidden under the floor", and which any non-pedant would probably agree.

    Have you got kids? And a car? If so, how thoroughly do you clean your car? I've only got the one son, just short of his 12th birthday currently. I traded in a 3 year old Volvo V40 just a couple of months ago. I emptied it every week of junk, I valeted it myself thoroughly every few weeks, and got the local guys to valet it even more thoroughly every few months, but you would not believe the amount of shit one can find beneath almost any loose fitting flap or fairing.

    A few years ago I traded in a car (coincidentally, also a Volvo), and though it was almost ready for the scrapper, I valeted it myself, and then also had the local guys valet it for me too, to remove any "evidence". A few weeks later I started getting hounded by the guy who'd bought it at auction and blamed me for buying a car with a faulty clutch. He'd got my number from a torn scrap of MOT invoice that must've been buried so far inside the car I assume he'd had to strip the car down to component parts to find it.

    The point is, cars, even when well looked after and regularly cleaned, are black holes for any crap that enters them, especially if you have kids.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More likely this was found in the spare wheel well, or under a carpet, or if an older car, wedged into a seam underneath a seat, which by very loose definition any cop could say was "hidden under the floor", and which any non-pedant would probably agree.

    It wasn't any of those things. Basically, the cotton candy was "in the floor board", i.e. on the floor, near her feet, per this report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAV9Lp-s2qE

  29. Glen 1 Bronze badge

    Bought at auction? Surely that's sold as seen?

  30. Open5G

    Who keeps legal things under the floor mat of a car? Lots of messy people who do quick 'clean-ups'. I can easily imagine a situation in which one of two had been scoffing down the cotton candy then vanished it under the floor mat or carpet so that their significant other would not see it. Or the auto simply got cluttered and the cotton candy was shoved out of the way with other things. While that may be the act of someone who is overly rushed or a slob, it is not unusual to find things that have somehow found their way under the carpet or mat. I find popcorn kernels, change, pens, USB cables... somehow they get into out of the way places.

    There is a basic right to a speedy trial in the US. That should have meant that the city/state had to provide the testing or release the accused on a reasonable bail after a short number of days.

    We live in an age that sped up from 'Internet Time' to the now current 'Mobile communications time' and age of rapid chemical testing. The tests for methamphetamine, one of the most commonly tested drugs on the planet, has no reason to take more than three business days. The US Food and Drug Administration says that field test results can be impacted by chemical contamination, false readings and should always be followed up with lab testing to confirm positive results. Local law enforcement and the courts should, therefore, not rely on field tests as a rationale for jailing US citizens (or anyone else) for longer than needed to have the samples sent to one of the many certified labs that are available. This type of test is so common that there is no reason to allow bogged down government facilities to justify jailing for extended periods of time.

    Innocent people do not expect to be found guilty. Guilty people often know they have the right to refuse a search without a warrant or if the officers have observed criminal activity. This and similar cases warn us what minorities tend to know from a young age: we live in a police state egged on by fear in which much of the protection of civil liberties guaranteed under the constitution are 'situationally compromised'. In this case, the situation was a bag of fluffed sugar, perhaps a minor offense to intelligence, that had been shuffled under the floor mat/carpet. I shudder to think what the police might find after a holiday to the beach!

  31. Outski

    "There is a basic right to a speedy trial..."

    Justice delayed = Justice denied

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You have obviously never had small children in your car. When mine were small lifting a floor mat always revealed something disgusting, often a piece of squashed candy, sweet wrappers were a regular find, if the kids got a treat on the way home they just discarded the wrappers when they had finished,

  33. N2 Silver badge

    I can hear

    The laywers word processors revving up from here in France

    Sue the fuckking arse off the bastards and don't settle for what they offer at first, because it will be shyte all.

  34. smudge Silver badge
    WTF?

    Beneath the vehicle's floor?

    Does one usually transport one's sugar confectionery underneath the base of one's conveyance?

    Or, in English - WHY???

  35. A.P. Veening

    Re: Beneath the vehicle's floor?

    "WHY???"

    As explained before: squirrely kids.

  36. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Re: Beneath the vehicle's floor?

    Before asking why, I suggest you have a look under your cars floor-mats -- especially if you have kids!

  37. Calin Brabandt

    The best and the brightest fighting the war on drugs again!

    It's not reported here whether the victim gave them permission but it's rather moot anyway. Cops can make up a reason for a search anytime they want ("for their own safety, for example")--just as they can make up a reason for pulling anyone over at any time (as they did in this case too). Of course they are all inexcusable actions from the world's most dangerous gang of thugs, regardless of permission or refusal to a search. The Bill of Rights is a dead letter and the U.S.A. has been gradually overthrown and replaced by a tyrannical oligarchic state!

  38. Paul Kinsler

    Re: replaced by a tyrannical oligarchic state!

    Like the The Iron Heel

    (because anything's better than yet another 1984 reference).

  39. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    Re: The best and the brightest fighting the war on drugs again!

    @Calin, yes it is reported, and yes she did give them permission.

  40. nerdbert

    Re: The best and the brightest fighting the war on drugs again!

    The cops can pull you over for any reason in practice, but the key for them is to get permission to keep you. If you say no to the request for a search (and you always should to prevent cases like this), and ask if you are free to go there's a clock that starts ticking. If the police decide to delay you beyond the reason for the initial stop, and you keep asking if you're free to go, then anything they might find becomes inadmissible.

    In essence, by asking if you're being detained you force the officer to come up with and articular probable cause or to release you. The SCOTUS has made quite clear that detaining you after the purpose of the stop is impermissible without probable cause.

    The fact that you have to be knowledgeable, quite clear, emphatic in enforcing your rights is absurd, but that's the way lawyers like it.

  41. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: The best and the brightest fighting the war on drugs again!

    Police have also argued that you stopping when they say "excuse me" is you consenting to be stopped and searched.

    Here they can't search you on the street but they can ask you to turn out your pockets - in case you have a concealed weapon - and then arrest you for anything they find.

  42. Jonathon Green

    I like Americans, they’re funny!

  43. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
    Coat

    I would be scared shitless....

    I would be scared shitless to make a claim against the police in United States of America. Look what happened to Steven Avery after he made a multi million dollar claim for a wrongful conviction.... You get stitched up on a murder charge...

    Mines the one with the stitched up pockets so nobody can slip anything illegal in it....

  44. holmegm

    Re: I would be scared shitless....

    On the plus side, it's much more difficult here to get arrested for an unkind but truthful Facebook post.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I would be scared shitless....

    Don't forget the gloves so your fingerprints can't be lifted off a glass. DNA fragments are more difficult to protect.

    A respected bus driver lost his job in the UK for failing a routine drug saliva test.

    It was said at an employment tribunal that as a diabetic he often licked his fingers to ease the discomfort of frequent glucose blood checks. It is a known fact that many currency notes have traces of cocaine on them.

    He paid for a more accurate drug test - which came up clear. His employers refused to consider that result it in their decision to fire him. He won £40k in damages.

  46. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Boffin

    How in the hell can it take 3 months to determine that the bag contents were old cotton candy??

    Cotton candy is spun sugar. That's it! Just sugar!! Often they won't even put food coloring in it to make it yellow or blue.

    What kind of reputable lab takes 3 months to figure out that something is just sugar??

    Numbskulls. The company that made the test is going to have to fork out somewhere in 6 figures for this. Not sure about the police department involved.

  47. A.P. Veening

    Re: How in the hell can it take 3 months to determine that the bag contents were old cotton candy??

    "6 figures"

    Make that at least seven before the decimal point and the first can't be a zero.

  48. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Re: How in the hell can it take 3 months to determine that the bag contents were old cotton candy??

    And upper and lower case letters and at least one special character?

    Oh, wait, that's something different...

  49. muhfugen

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

    Or just tell the cops to go fvck themselves when they ask to search your car, and cite the tth amendment.

  50. Mike 16 Bronze badge

    Cite the 4th?

    Bad advice that can have a serious adverse effect on your health. Yes, even if white, over 30, and driving a decent car or in your own home. As the bumper sticker says:

    "Question Authority, and the Authorities will assuredly Question You", and not always gently.

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