The quota and points driven drug bust culture that exists in many police departments around the country has seen its fair share of scandals as of late. But one man was able to cash in on the mistreatment he received at the hands of one hysteria-driven police force.
Bronx native Anthony Small was traveling as a passenger with his two brothers in a car going through Fort Lee, NJ on October 28th, 2013. The trio had just met with VH1 producers who were interested in featuring Small’s line of clothing.
Officer Richard Hernandez pulled the car over for a minor moving violation but noticed a bag of bath salts in the car. Believing the substance to be illegal bath salts and not the kind in which an athlete soaks, everyone in the car was arrested.
The arrests were made in spite of the fact the salts were properly labeled as a muscle relief product and in their original packaging. Small tried telling Hernandez the product was given to his girlfriend at an NFL promotion. The substance was a muscle relieving bath treatment called “Soak,” which is a brand endorsed by many professional sports teams. Hernandez didn’t believe the story and the three were hauled off to jail.
Hernandez didn’t believe the story and the three were hauled off to jail.
Small was charged with distribution of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of narcotic paraphernalia. Unable to make bail immediately, he spent the next four days in jail. Hernandez sent off the salts for narcotics testing, only to find out the substance was legal bath salts and not narcotics.
According to NJ.com, a judge set Small’s bail at $25,000 with no option to pay 10 percent cash. Police strip-searched him and sent him to Bergen County Jail when he couldn’t make bail immediately. He spent the next several days in a cage because of incompetent cops waging an immoral war on arbitrary substances.
As a result of the substance being a legal one, all charges were dropped against Small, but only after months of undue suffering, on March 20, 2014.
Small sued in court, alleging the police officer, the department and the Fort Lee, NJ borough had violated his fourth amendment rights by performing an unreasonable search and seizure. The rights violating police incompetence resulted in the subsequent and significant loss of income from his VH1 deal. He did, indeed, make a deal with VH1, but had he not been in jail, his clothing line would have been promoted in at least 5 more episodes. The borough settled out of court by paying Small 75,000 for his unlawful arrest, strip searching, unlawful imprisonment, loss of income, and other unspecified damages.
Luckily, Small did, indeed, make a deal with VH1, but had he not been in jail, his clothing line would have been promoted in at least 5 more episodes. The borough settled out of court by paying Small $75,000 for his unlawful arrest, strip searching, unlawful imprisonment, loss of income, and other unspecified damages.
As The Free Thought Project has reported on several occasions, there is a need for the federal government to end the drug war, which is only still continuing because locking people up is big business for cities across the country who balance their police departments’ budgets by citation writing, jail fees, court costs, and plea deals.
The steady stream of inmates going into the corrections system feeds the prison industrial complex with fresh meat. But when individuals like Small are arrested, while not being guilty of any crimes, the costs to cities and boroughs from lawsuits and settlements is quite astounding.
Cases like this are nothing new, in fact, we report on them on a regular basis.
Earlier this month, Ross LeBeau, of Houston, was cleared of drug charges after he was arrested for possession of Methamphetamine. It turns out that LeBeau was actually in possession of kitty litter, not meth. However, this made no difference to the cops who kidnapped and caged him for it.
On May 8 of last year, Gale Griffin and her husband Wendall Harvey, who’ve been driving trucks together for the last seven years were wrongfully charged with possession of cocaine. They were targeted by incompetent cops who used criminally ineffective drug test kits on a white powdery substance found inside the couple’s truck. The kit identified the substance as cocaine. But it was not cocaine. It was baking soda Griffin used for stomach problems. However, they were caged for months while the reckless cops ignored their pleas of innocence.
Also this year, Alexander Bernstein of Brooklyn was jailed and had his life ruined after cops mistook soap for cocaine.
Wenonah resident John Cokos recently settled a lawsuit against the Gloucester County police department for $35,000. The lawsuit comes after an arrest for drug possession because the officer claimed that his crackers were crack rocks.
In October, college student John Harrington was thrown in prison after police, with one of these field drug test kits, tested sugar, and came up with a false positive for cocaine.
“Really, I’m really in jail right now for powdered sugar, ” John Harrington thought after it happened.
We’ve also seen the case in which police mistook Jolly Ranchers for meth and jailed an innocent man. Love Olatunijojo, 25, and an unidentified friend purchased Jolly Ranchers at the It’Sugar candy emporium in Coney Island in June of 2013. Several blocks away, cops stopped and searched the friends and mistook the candies for crystal meth. Olatunijojo was then thrown in jail.
In August, we reported on the story of a man who was held in prison for over four months because police falsely identified salt as crystal meth.
And the list goes on….