A 64-year-old Orlando, Fla., man is seeking damages from the city after he was handcuffed, arrested, jailed and strip-searched for possession of a highly addictive substance known to cause temporary euphoria.
No, not crystal meth. But it was something that many consider to be just as addictive: the sugary glaze from a Krispy Kreme doughnut.
Daniel Rushing had taken a neighbor to the hospital for a chemotherapy session and was driving an elderly friend home from her job at a 7-Eleven last December when he was pulled over for speeding, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.
When Rushing, a retiree who worked in the Orlando parks department for 25 years, opened his wallet to take out his driver’s license, Cpl. Shelby Riggs-Hopkins saw that he had a concealed-weapons permit.
Rushing disclosed to the officer that he was carrying a weapon, and she then asked him to step out of his car. And that’s when she spotted “a rock like substance on the floor board where his feet were.”
"I recognized through my eleven years of training and experience as a law enforcement officer the substance to be some sort of narcotic," the eight-year veteran of the force wrote in Rushing’s arrest report.
Riggs-Hopkins field-tested the substance twice, and both times it came up positive for amphetamines. After she read Rushing his Miranda rights, he “stated that he has never done any drugs in his life and he has no idea now the substance got in his vehicle. Rushing stated that the substance is sugar from a Krispie Kreme Donut that he ate.”
Rushing told the Orlando Sentinel that he had to wait anxiously for six weeks until a report from Florida’s state crime lab confirmed that he’d been telling the truth all along. But he's already spent about 10 hours in jail – he was released on $2,500 bond – for possessing the remains of a doughnut.
"It was incredible," Rushing told the Sentinel. "It feels scary when you haven't done anything wrong and get arrested ... It's just a terrible feeling."
He said he agreed to let Riggs-Hopkins search his car because "I didn't have anything to hide.
"I'll never let anyone search my car again."
The police department did not explain why the doughnut glaze tested positive for amphetamine in both field tests. In a statement, the department said the arrest was a lawful one.
Earlier this month, a New York Times investigation on roadside drug tests found that the testing kits used by Florida officers are far from reliable:
There are no established error rates for the field tests, in part because their accuracy varies so widely depending on who is using them and how. Data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab system show that 21 percent of evidence that the police listed as methamphetamine after identifying it was not methamphetamine, and half of those false positives were not any kind of illegal drug at all.
Rushing has not said how much money he is seeking from the city. His attorney, William Ruffier, told the Sentinel he expects to file a suit against the city in August.