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 ....

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. M.V. Lipvig

              Re: How many constitutional rights were violated ?

              Correct, and it has nothing at all to do with "government controlled." Well-regulated at the time meant operates well, as in a well-regulated timepiece. Further, this was written by people who had just successfully overthrown an oppressive government that had tried to disarm them. These people weren't about to codify any laws allowing the government to disarm the people.

        2. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. 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.

        3. 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?

          1. 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...

      3. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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)

      4. 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".

        1. 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

        2. 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.

    2. 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.)

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

          1. 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...

            1. 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.

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

    4. 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!

  3. 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)

  4. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

  5. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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.....

    2. 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.

      1. kiwimuso
        WTF?

        @cornetman

        Well the problem with that is I, and I'm sure many others, have no idea what any of these drugs look like so couldn't possibly know what substances I should not have in my car in case they were mistaken for an illegal substance.

    3. 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?"

      1. 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...

    4. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. 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.

              1. 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!

              2. 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)

                1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

                  Re: Border wall

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

        2. 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.

          1. 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!

    5. 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!

      1. 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

    6. 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

    7. 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?"

  6. 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.

    1. 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 ...."

    2. 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

      1. 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.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Pretextual traffic stops

          not if you want your vehicle back...

        2. 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.

    3. Public Citizen

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

    4. 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.

  7. 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

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: profilling

      That's one odd profile.

      1. 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.

        1. 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".

          1. 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.

        2. 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.

        3. 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.

    2. NLCSGRV

      Re: profilling

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

  8. }{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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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

      2. Glen 1 Bronze badge

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

    3. 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!

      1. Outski

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

        Justice delayed = Justice denied

    4. 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,

  12. 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.

  13. 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???

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: Beneath the vehicle's floor?

      "WHY???"

      As explained before: squirrely kids.

    2. 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!

  14. 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!

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: replaced by a tyrannical oligarchic state!

      Like the The Iron Heel

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

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

  15. Jonathon Green

    I like Americans, they’re funny!

  16. 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....

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  17. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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...

  18. 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.

    1. Mike 16 Silver 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.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

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

      That's terrible advice. Here's how to do the same thing in a way that is legally defensible: say "I do not consent to this search" and leave it at that. Don't actually try to stop them from searching, and always be polite.

      Also, as always, never talk to the police or tell them anything more than what you're legally required to tell them. Never, no matter how innocent you are.

      1. Ken Mitchell

        You have a right to remain silent. But this only helps you if you SHUT UP:.

      2. DougS Silver badge

        I recently had to deal with the cops (and live in the US)

        I was driving on a wet evening and as I rounded a curve a deer was in the middle of the road and I swerved to avoid him, slid on wet leaves, and ended up in the ditch and couldn't get my car out. While I was waiting for roadside assistance a cop saw and stopped by to see if I was OK. After talking to me he claimed he could smell alcohol on my breath (I hadn't had anything for three hours at that point) and performed sobriety checks, which I passed easily.

        Then he said he wanted me to blow into the portable breathalyzer, and I asked him if he had any indication from the sobriety check that I was intoxicated and was I required to do so and he said it was my choice so I told him I chose not to. He seemed visibly irritated I was questioning him, and asked me if he could "have a look in my car" and I refused. Obviously he had been hoping for a drunk driving arrest, and when he couldn't get one was fishing around for something.

        He ended up citing me with a $200 ticket for "failure to maintain control". Maybe if I had played along with his power tripping he wouldn't have written me up, but even if I knew that for sure I still would have refused despite having no reason to worry about the search of my car. Just on principle I don't want to encourage that kind of shit with police, and I'm willing to pay $200 and get a hit on my license if I have to.

        1. Trixr

          Re: I recently had to deal with the cops (and live in the US)

          I would contest the ticket as well. Surely you have the right to do so in court? If it's anything like in Australia/NZ, if you contest it - especially when you have a reasonable explanation, and the ticket looks like that kind of bullying "offence" - most of the time the cop won't turn up to court to provide their "evidence" and the judge will dismiss it.

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: I recently had to deal with the cops (and live in the US)

          and performed sobriety checks, which I passed easily.

          Why do american cops still persist with this stoneage method? especially when they have a breathalyzer??

          Its no wander they messed up the meth test , they still havent mastered checking for alcohol!

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: I recently had to deal with the cops (and live in the US)

            "especially when they have a breathalyzer?"

            I wouldn't trust a breathalyzer myself. There have been too many cases of false positives resulting from the police not adequately maintaining that equipment. What I would do is, if I was actually sober and failed the sobriety checks, refuse the breathalyzer and take the blood test instead.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: I recently had to deal with the cops (and live in the US)

              Maybe I should have contested it, but it would have been a three hour round trip to the county where it happened. Anyway, I couldn't dispute the fact that I DID "lose control" so I'm not sure if I could have it dismissed without lying to the judge, even if the cop didn't show (tickets are not automatically dismissed if the cop doesn't show, despite common advice to the contrary)

              Trying to argue that the cop only wrote me the ticket because he was pissed I didn't go along with a search isn't likely to impress a judge. They are almost always on the side of police.

        3. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: I recently had to deal with the cops (and live in the US)

          "I'm willing to pay $200 and get a hit on my license if I have to."

          If your telling of the story is accurate, then you should show up at traffic court for the ticket and plead your case. The odds are good that you can get the ticket dismissed.

  19. Bloodbeastterror

    The American "justice" system...

    ...is a complete joke, the laughing stock of the world. A third-world country on its way to being fourth-class. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the people who put men on the moon are diminishingly few...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The American "justice" system...

      I've said it before and I'll say it again - the people who put men on the moon are diminishingly few...

      Hmm, and how many of them were involved in criminal justice? Non sequitur isn't a strong enough word for your statement.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: The American "justice" system...

      After watching this country as a citizen for most of my life (I'm well past my retirement date) it will probably get worse before it gets better. I would have moved out decades ago but the question of "where" made me realize the whole planet is seriously screwed up.

    3. Curly4

      Re: The American "justice" system...

      I think that I would rather be in the hands of the US justice system than any other justice system. Here at least you don't have to testify against your self.

      1. Trixr

        Re: The American "justice" system...

        Um, you don't have to testify against yourself in any country (that I know of) where the legal system is based on English common law.

        In the UK itself, except Scotland, the right of silence is slightly modified and suspects are "cautioned that anything they do not reveal in questioning, but later rely upon in court may harm their defence." They still do not have to speak at all, however.

      2. Spanners Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: The American "justice" system...

        Here at least you don't have to testify against your self.(sic)

        That is pretty much the norm in what we like to call the democratic world. The first thing I heard a police officer say to someone he had handcuffed started something like "You do not have to say anything..."

        It has certainly been the rule in the UK since the 17th century - before the USA existed.

  20. RobThBay

    Imagine the outcome if she had been non-white.

  21. Scaffa

    They might have done some time, but I never did get my candy floss.

  22. OrneryRedGuy

    Decline permission

    You have to make it clear that you cannot and will not physically stop them from searching, but any search they do perform will be without your consent. Whether or not that helps is another matter, but at least you're making it clear they have to come up with a probable cause, and hopefully doesn't make you any more likely to get roughed up. "We searched because they said we could" is far too often sufficient probable cause.

    (I'm not a lawyer, though.)

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Decline permission

      ""We searched because they said we could" is far too often sufficient probable cause."

      Technically, that's not probably cause, that's them simply asking you for permission to search and you giving it. If they have your permission, they need no justification for the search whatsoever. At the heart of it, that's why everybody should explicitly state that they are not giving consent. As you say, that may (or may not -- but at least there's a chance) help later, in court, when the police have to justify the legality of the search.

  23. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Happened before

    https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-krispy-kreme-glaze-orlando-police-20171012-story.html

    "The City of Orlando paid $37,500 to a man to settle a lawsuit after police officers arrested him for what they thought was meth but was actually tiny flakes of glaze from a Krispy Kreme doughnut"

    So this was $37K for just 10 hours in jail. Hopefully this woman gets millions.

    That's the only way to stop this. Hit them in the pocketbook.

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: Happened before

      The only way to truly stop this, is to make the idiots responsible for this travesty of justice personally accountable and liable. Once it is generally known things like this will hit you in your wallet if you screw up like this, it will stop quickly enough.

      NB: I don't have a real problem with the initial arrest based on the field test, but the results of a better test should have been in within hours, after which a release with apologies would have settled it.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Happened before

      Hit them in the pocketbook.

      Unfortunately any settlement is likely to be paid by the controlling government's liability insurance policy. It's not like the sheriff's department, much less anyone who actually made any decision involved in this case, will pay anything.

      Probably the best we can hope for is that a large settlement puts some political pressure on the sheriff and some of that rolls downhill onto the deputies involved in the first place. Where I live, we've seen some sheriff elections come under pressure, if not actually turn, due to fuck-ups by the department. (Arguably nothing as bad as this one, though I'm reluctant to try ranking these things. The department in my neck of the woods let a lot of evidence get contaminated, for example, which may have eventually caused grief for who knows how many people.)

  24. Long John Brass Silver badge
    FAIL

    Lawsuite

    Sue for say 500 million. You don't do it expecting to win, you do it to generate a media frenzy. Then things will very quickly change.

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: Lawsuite

      A media frenzy won't change anything and most definitely not quickly. For real changes personal liablility and accountability for those responsible works a lot better, hit them where it really hurts (in their wallets).

    2. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Lawsuite

      You think a media frenzy over this will change anything?

      None of the frenzies following any of the recent police murders/executions have, why would this? Several made worldwide media, yet another "good guy with a gun" still bit it in the last week or so, again international news.

      Similarly the policeman who shot a kid wanting directions (because he wasn't white and seemingly millions of Americans are racist) in his front garden made the news worldwide. Nothing will change, if it does, it will get worse first.

  25. Slarti Bartfast

    Roadside drug tests

    Surely the roadside drug test manufacturer should be in the firing line here as well.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/01/09/texas_man_loses_job_and_jailed_after_cops_confuse_cat_litter_for_meth/

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Roadside drug tests

      And fortunately they are.

    2. Herring`

      Re: Roadside drug tests

      Yes. There seem to be a lot of cases where these are throwing up false-positives - look for demos on YouTube where they test common stuff like chocolate against these things. The problem is that law enforcement have invested time and money in these things and so admitting that they are a bunch of bollocks is difficult.

      Hopefully this case will push them to reconsider.

  26. Jay Lenovo Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    A reason? How about wearing white after Labor Day.

    One of the more absurd reasons is on the suspicion that the driver was not buckled up (click-it or ticket).

    The only reason "your safety" stopped being a choice was the police's need to snoop and the insurance companies desire to raise rates.

    It's uneasy to share the community with law enforcement as friends, when a "cotton candy" misunderstanding can put you in jail with thousands in legal fees.

  27. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Habeus Corpus ?

    Or has Trump taken that too ?

  28. Ken Mitchell

    If I'm on that jury, I'll award her $100 million, and demand that every attorney on the prosecution team be disbarred.

  29. Curly4
    Happy

    Get rich quick?

    This is a chance for that woman to get a $1,000,000 tax free which she should but in a hidden account for the next time the police stop her with candy in a paper bag which the police think are drugs. It will happen again because the police of any state never learns so they will do it again.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Get rich quick?

      $1,000,000 should be enough for a nice house in a different county (or preferably a different state). Hell, if it were up to me she'd get enough to move her whole family to the otherside of the country.

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: Get rich quick?

        "Hell, if it were up to me she'd get enough to move her whole family to the otherside of the country."

        How about out of the country?

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Get rich quick?

      "This is a chance for that woman to get a $1,000,000 tax free"

      Not likely. Generally, compensatory awards are not taxed as they are intended so "make you whole" -- in other words, to compensate you so that you're neither taking a monetary loss nor making monetary profit. However, punitive (and other) awards are fully taxable.

      It's unlikely that this person suffered a $1,000,000 loss here, so such an award would be punitive.

  30. don't you hate it when you lose your account
    Alert

    finger test

    The stupid ones in South Africa do that. A couple of years ago I was at a friends house when 2 cops walked in the living room, one with his gun drawn. They were looking for a dodgy lodger who'd been kicked out a week before. It was a shake down as all they wanted was to know where the drugs and money were. They were also from the dog unit of different town. After informing these crooks that the gentleman (who I always referd to as worm) was no longer living there and we had no money or drugs on the premises ; they got a bit pissed off and started an illegal search. One of them pulled everything out of a cupboard and triumphantly pulled out a plastic shopping bag with white powder in it. He demanded to know what it was and my friend told him; to which the cop replied 'don't talk shit'. At this point he licked his finger, put it in the bag and straight in the mouth. Personally, I'v never had the inclination to taste scouring powder; but the memory of his face will always give me a warm feeling.

    1. A.P. Veening
      Trollface

      Re: finger test

      "scouring powder"

      The results would have been even better with potassium (or sodium) cyanide.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sensitivity, Specificity and False Positives

    A quick visit to the reagent manufacturer's website (https://www.sirchie.com/forensics/narcotics-investigation/kits/nark-reg-ii-patrol-kit.html#.W_-07i2cZQI) suggests that the screening test used was Nitroprusside based, i.e. Simon's reagent. That gives a blue colour in the presence of methamphetamine, MDMA and Ritalin. It doesn't give a false positive with sugar. However, if you test a mixture of sugar with a blue dye and you have a perceptual bias - who knows? Sircie do say that positive results should be confirmed by a definitive testing method. And when someone is in custody based on a screening test result the lab should pull its finger out.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Sensitivity, Specificity and False Positives

      This sort of false positive because of blue coloring could easily be avoided with a control test. A second bag of liquid that should NOT color in the presence of methamphetamine, MDMA or Ritalin (plain distilled water?) compare the 2. If both are equal shades of blue it's a negative result (ofcourse the comparison would have to be made side-by-side over the same lightsource, but a somewhat even tempered lightsource should be used to judge these tests to begin with).

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Sensitivity, Specificity and False Positives

      "Sircie do say that positive results should be confirmed by a definitive testing method."

      And the reason they say this is because those tests have a stupidly high false-positive rate.

  32. ab-gam

    That's OK - we also have "Drug Whispering" Cops.... no evidence needed

    https://www.11alive.com/article/news/investigations/the-drug-whisperer-drivers-arrested-while-stone-cold-sober/85-437061710

    Georgia also has 'Specially Trained' cops who can arrest (and sometimes get you convicted) of being under the influence of... nothing.

  33. SonofRojBlake

    "The moral of the story? "

    The moral of the story is never, ever, under any circumstance go to the USA, and if you live there, leave. The place is run by an armed criminal gang.

  34. js.lanshark

    Seeds of chaos...

    Way back when I was in the military, if you bought a used car you took the risk that it may have at some point possibly been used to maybe transport a careless drug user who dropped a few seeds in the upholstery.

    If you asked the base cop shop for a courtesy sniff by the drug dogs, you were routinely denied. If there by chance was a random seed or so subsequently found, you would kiss your current enlistment goodbye, and if a career person, stop that cold. Strict liability. In your car, you own it, it is yours, you did the crime, now do the time.

    This created a brisk trade in used cars that were previously owned by military members of good standing as it constituted the best defense against those random seeds dropped by other possibly shady previous owners.

  35. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    Fat women always look guilty of something.

  36. adam payne Silver badge

    Fincher was left in jail for three months while the "meth" was poked and prodded at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

    It shouldn't take three months to analysis this. The only reason I can think of is a massive backlog of work.

  37. Toilet Duk

    She allowed them to search her car.

    And this is why you never, ever give the police anything more than the minimum legally required level of co-operation. Never trust a cop.

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