An Atlanta woman spent six months behind bars after she was arrested for drug possession when police mistook sand from her stress ball for cocaine. Ju’zema Goldring ended up spending six months in Fulton County jail because she couldn’t afford bail. Some of that time was even spent in solitary confinement, she told NBC 46, and she was left in jail for four months after a crime lab conclusively determined that the white powder on her person wasn’t drugs at all. Now she’s suing the city.
- The US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit handed Goldring a legal victory. They ruled last week that the two Atlanta police officers involved in the arrest are not entitled to immunity from the civil lawsuit Goldring is bringing against them. She claims that she was falsely accused of both jaywalking and cocaine trafficking based on a shoddy field test of the sand from the stress ball in her purse at the time.
- The entire arrest seems pretty dodgy when you hear about it. Atlanta officers Vladimir Henry and Juan Restrepo stopped Goldring for allegedly jaywalking on October 10, 2015. They took her to the police station for some unknown reason and then cut open the stress ball in her purse to test the sand within it for drugs using a Nark II field test. The problem is, those tests, while simple to use, are VERY prone to user errors and misreadings.
- The officers really seemed to want to arrest her. Goldring claims that Officer Henry “huffed and puffed” while performing multiple field tests on the powder from the stress ball but none of them changed color as they would have if they contained narcotics. Henry disagrees with Goldring’s claims, saying that the tests resulted in a “bluish-purple” liquid that the officers agreed was a “faint positive.”
- Goldring was cleared of any wrongdoing on November 17, 2015. It was on that date that the Georgia Bureau of Investigations definitively concluded that there was zero cocaine or anything illegal on Goldring’s person at the time of her arrest. However, the state didn’t bother to dismiss any charges against her until March 21, 2016, meaning she had to stay in prison the entire time.
- It’s difficult for Goldring to remember what she went through the night she was arrested. “When they first stopped me, I was asking them why they were stopping me and then I feel like the third time I asked he was like oh because you jaywalked. And I was like when and where did I jaywalk,” she recalled to CBS 46. As for the drug charges, she was beside herself. “I was just confused; and I know I don’t do drugs, so it was like a scary feeling.” Here’s hoping she gets some justice!