Martin County, FL — For almost 6 weeks, Matt Crull, 29, was locked in a cage by drug war-addicted cops who mistook his Tide Laundry detergent for heroin. Crull spent Christmas and New Year’s in a cage because Martin County Sheriff’s deputy Steven O’Leary couldn’t have cared less about due diligence when robbing people of their freedom over random substances using faulty field drug test kits.
The incident unfolded on December 5, as Crull napped in his van in a parking lot. Deputies claimed the van was “suspicious” so they proceeded to turn Crull’s life into a living hell.
When the deputies arrived, they detained Crull and then searched his van. Moments later, they claimed to have found a bag of heroin—a massive bag of heroin.
“I just looked at him baffled and confused because I had no idea as to where 92 grams of heroin came from inside my van,” Crull said.
“He showed me a picture of the field test kit that he supposedly conducted, on his phone,” Crull told CBS12. “He never actually showed me the real test kit.”
Whether he used an actual field test kit or just lied and showed him a photo of another one is almost a moot point. TFTP has shown time and again that these cheap and unreliable kits will show positive drug results for just about anything, including nothing at all. That’s right, we have reported on instances of positive results, from simply exposing these kits to nothing but air.
“(It’s) very surreal when you’re sitting in jail with a half a million dollars bond,” Crull told WPBF25, “and you can’t go anywhere knowing that you didn’t do wrong.
“In the past, when I have gone to jail, it’s been something where I knew I wasn’t going to be there forever. It’s a lot different than going to jail and the charge of trafficking of heroin carries a penalty of 25 years in prison,” Crull said.
Luckily, after 41 days of his life were stolen by the Martin County Sheriff’s department, Crull was let out of jail and O’Leary was fired when the sheriff realized there was no evidence of a crime.
After news of Crull’s arrest became public, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder attempted to distance himself from O’Leary as if the department’s policies weren’t the problem and O’Leary was some anomaly.
“No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, just based on the law of possibilities there’s always a possibility that one bad apple will slip through,” Snyder said.
“I think that’s just their play that they’re doing to keep their name clear,” Crull said in response.
And Crull is right. Cops accusing innocent people of having drugs when they have entirely legal substances happens all the time. What’s more, even if O’Leary was a single bad apple within the department, records show that he had kidnapped and caged at least 11 other innocent people for drugs they never had and nothing was done about it until now.
Luckily, they have all since been released. However, blowing the sheriff’s “bad apple” claim out of the water is the fact that tens of thousands of innocent people across the country have been thrown in a cage over this exact same situation.
Crull is one of many men and women to suffer horrific fates at the hands of negligent cops and their continued use of faulty field drug test kits.
In fact, tens of thousands have been convicted and served time — even earning the black mark of a felony — for crimes they likely didn’t commit, according to a report, because the cases against them relied on horribly unreliable field drug test kits.
So prone to errors are the tests, courts won’t allow their submission as evidence. However, their continued use by law enforcement — coupled with a 90 percent rate at which drug cases are resolved through equally dubious plea deals — needlessly ruins thousands of lives.
Sadly, as TFTP has reported, Crull’s story is extremely common and happens every day throughout the US. The standard $2 field drug tests, manufactured by The Safariland Group, have been proven to be unreliable. Even according to the manufacturer, they should not be used as a stand-alone test for convictions related to drug possession.
Studies have shown how everyday foods, spices, and medicine tested positive in field drug tests. And, as stated above, in one experiment, scientists even discovered that air could set off false positive for these tests.
According to Forensic Resources:
“The director of a lab recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for forensic science excellence has called field drug testing kits “totally useless” due to the possibility of false positives. In laboratory experiments, at least two brands of field testing kits have been shown to produce false positives in tests of Mucinex, chocolate, aspirin, chocolate, and oregano.”
Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, a Ph.D. chemist and former FBI lab supervisor, has also voiced objections, saying that he has “no confidence at all in those test kits.”
According to the national litigation and public policy organization, the Innocence Project, at any given time there are an estimated 40,000 to 100,000 innocent people currently locked in a cage in U.S. prisons.
Over the years, The Free Thought Project has reported on countless stories of odd things creating false positives in field drug tests. We have seen people put behind bars for possession of things like drywall, glazed donuts, vitamins, okra, crackers, kitty litter and baking soda. We can now add Tide to that list.