Police work is hard. No doubt, spending most of your days dealing with difficult, sad or downright dangerous situations is no walk in the park. Though the work is difficult, it comes with enormous power. That power can have a big impact on any given citizen’s life.
Unfortunately, there are times when the police make mistakes. Some of those mistakes are no laughing matter. Some, however, clearly are, though the citizens on the other end of those mistakes might beg to differ.
Here are 10 instances of mistaken identity of the illegal drug kind.
1. Coconut Candy Powder
One night, prior to heading to a party, two friends, José Pena and Cesar Rodriguez stopped into a store to pick up their favorite candy. As they exited, police asked to search their van. Rodriguez agreed. That’s when the police discovered a Hello Kitty bag full of white powder. The two friends tried to tell the officers that it was candy, but the cops weren’t buying it. Charged with cocaine possession, the two men were arrested and transported to jail.
It was only days later when police concluded testing the mystery substance that they realized their mistake. Charges against Pena and Rodriguez were immediately dropped and they were free to go.
2. Okra Plant
Okra is a plant containing edible seed pods. Grown in warm climates, Okra is sometimes referred to by its nickname, “lady’s finger.” It comes in 2 colors – red and green. Though a fruit, people tend to use it as a vegetable in cooking. It is very popular in South America.
Okra must not be well known in Cartersville, Georgia, at least not to its police department and one Dwayne Perry can attest to that.
One morning, back in 2014, Perry was woken up by a helicopter that was flying unusually low over his house. Next, Bartow County deputies showed up at his door with their K-9 unit. Turns out, the chopper was with the Government’s task force for drug suppression. They suspected Perry was growing cannabis. Perry was mystified, “Instead, it’s okra and maybe a bush on the end of the house.”
Perry knew his stuff as he pointed out that his plants had 5 leaves, not the incriminating 7 that distinguish a cannabis plant. He was also pissed off, “Here I am, at home and retired and you know I do the right thing. Then they come to my house strapped with weapons for no reason. It ain’t right.”
3. Breath Mint
How stinky is the breath of Americans? Very, at least according to sales figures. Sales of breath mints shot up 26% between 2012 and 2017. Apparently, continuous snacking and the consumption of spicier foods are driving demand.
In November of 2018, Ed McFadden, 52, was pulled over in Rockdale County, Georgia. The officer claimed to have smelled weed – which McFadden blamed on a friend who had previously driven his truck – and used that as a reason to search the vehicle. McFadden didn’t mind until the police officer claimed that he found a substance that tested positive for cocaine. McFadden couldn’t believe it, saying, “Take me to jail man because that ain’t no cocaine.” Another officer replied that “Test kits don’t lie.”
It wasn’t until after McFadden missed two days of work and paid a bail bondsman to be released that he discovered the real culprit. “As soon as I saw those candy wrappers I said…breath mints!”
Half of all Americans take Multivitamin or multimineral supplements even though the evidence supporting their effectiveness in preventing disease and maintaining overall health is limited.
Joseph Ray Burrell, 31, was one such vitamin user who, at least on one particular night, wishes he wasn’t. That night, he was exiting the parking lot of a local grocery store when he was stopped by police. As well as not having his lights on, Burrell was in trouble for a warrant stemming from his failure to appear in court for a charge of running away from a police officer. Then, his vehicle was searched. The officer found a plastic bag containing ½ an ounce of crystal shards. A subsequent field test was positive for methamphetamine.
Though Burrell had used drugs in the past, this time, the substance in the bag was eventually determined to not contain anything illegal. As Burrell later said, “I told the judge I couldn’t plead guilty to something I knew wasn’t a drug. They set my bail at $250,000 for vitamins.”
5. Glazed Donut
Apparently, tasty treats that have little to no nutritional value also have the added negative of occasionally getting you in trouble with the law.
Back in December of 2015, a Florida man named Daniel Rushing, 64 was in the midst of doing not 1 but 2 good deeds. He had just dropped off a friend at a chemotherapy appointment and was in the process of driving an older woman he knew from church home when he was pulled over by the police. Stopped for speeding, Rushing was asked by the female officer, Shelby Riggs-Hopkins, if she could search his car. Rushing agreed. That’s when things got kooky.
After the search, Riggs-Hopkins returned to Rushing and asked him about some crystals that were found. Rushing had no idea what she was talking about. Riggs-Hopkins claimed the crystals tested positive for methamphetamine. A dumbfounded Rushing replied, “That’s glaze from a Krispy Kreme doughnut! I get one every other Wednesday.”
Officers disagreed and booked Rushing for possession of methamphetamine. Rushing relayed the bizarre nature of the experience by saying, “It was funny because I called my wife to tell her what happened, and the guy next to me waiting for the phone started to laugh.”