Many drug-possession arrests are made based on results from faulty drug-testing kits
Daniel Rushing was arrested in Florida in December 2015 after police officers claimed to find methamphetamine crystals on the floor of his car. Astounded, the 64-year-old Rushing looked at the substance to realize it was crumbs from the glazed doughnut he’d eaten in his car earlier that week. According to NPR, Rushing attempted to explain the mix-up—he gets a Krispy Kreme doughnut every other Wednesday—but officers didn’t believe him. Their field-testing kit had marked the crumbs as testing positive for methamphetamine, and Rushing was taken to jail.
Shelby Riggs-Hopkins, the officer who made the arrest, was on alert after she saw Rushing’s concealed weapons permit in his wallet. Riggs-Hopkins wrote in her report, published by the Orlando Sentinel, that she then noticed “rock-like substance” on the car’s floor near Rushing’s feet.
"I recognized through my eleven years of training and experience as a law enforcement officer the substance to be some sort of narcotic," Riggs-Hopkins wrote in her report. After the glaze tested positively twice for methamphetamine, the officers arrested Rushing. Following Rushing’s arrest, the crumbs were sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for further testing and found to be nothing more than flecks of glaze. But that wasn’t until well after Rushing spent time in jail.
“I called my wife to tell her what happened, and the guy next to me waiting for the phone started to laugh,” Rushing told NPR. “He said, 'This is crazy. I think you got a real good lawsuit here.'"
A real good lawsuit indeed. After considering data from a New York Times and ProPublica investigation that found that thousands of arrests on drug possession charges are made based on results from these often faulty drug-testing kits, Rushing told NPR that although the charges against him were dropped, he still decided to sue the city of Orlando. He recently settled his lawsuit for $37,500. Needless to say, he now has enough money for a weekly Krispy Kreme fix—though he probably won’t rush to eat them in his car.