Man Sues After Field Drug Test Says His Daughter’s Ashes Are Meth And Ecstasy

In keeping with the Anne Frank uproar described in the post immediately below this one.

From Above the Law:

Cops like cheap field drug tests. They don’t like them because they’re accurate. They like them because they’re cheap. And since you get what you pay for, they’re way cheaper (in the long run) then sending for a drug dog.

Field drug tests are probable cause at $2 a pop. They’re even more unreliable than drug dogs when it comes to correctly identifying drugs. That’s why some prosecutors — the nominal best friends of law enforcement — are refusing to accept plea deals for drug charges stemming solely from field drug tests.

Field drug tests have said donut crumbs, cotton candy, and honey are methamphetamines. They’ve said bird poop on a car’s hood (!!) and bog standard aspirin are cocaine. Whatever a cop imagines to be drugs can usually be “confirmed” by the test kits they carry with them. Once the vial says it’s drugs, the cops are free to search, seize, and arrest.

Cops don’t need to be this wrong about drugs. But there’s no penalty for being this wrong. So, it continues. Prosecutors may have to drop a few cases when the drug lab says the supposed drugs aren’t actual drugs, but plea deals tend to go into place before labs get around to testing the evidence. And that’s if the evidence even makes its way to a lab. Cops aren’t the best at paperwork, which is convenient when it’s their word against yours. Even if a cop gets sued for turning non-contraband into contraband and drug charges, they’re usually indemnified by the city they work for or granted qualified immunity for relying on what they thought was actual science.

. . . .

Newschannel 20 and FOX Illinois obtained new body camera video of the incident sparking Dartavius Barnes to sue the City of Springfield.

In the suit, Barnes claims his vehicle was unlawfully searched on April 6, 2020 when he was pulled over near Laurel and 16th Streets in Springfield.

He says officers placed him in handcuffs while they searched his vehicle without consent, valid warrant, or probable cause.

During the search, Barnes says officers took a sealed urn of his daughter’s ashes, unsealed it, opened it without consent, and spilled out the ashes.

If you think that’s terrible, just wait for the backstory. Barnes’ daughter Ta’Naja Jones was only two when she died. And she may have been killed. The girl’s mother and her current boyfriend were both arrested on murder charges.

The ultimate insult to Ta’Naja Jones and her father happened here. Ta’Naja Jones’ final resting place wasn’t in the urn Barnes kept in his car. It was in a field drug test that officers performed because they just couldn’t bring themselves to believe it might be the last remains of a loved one.

According to law enforcement’s favorite faulty test equipment, the ashes of Ta’Naja Jones were possibly ecstasy. And that conclusion was reached after the ashes failed to test positive for cocaine.

An officer presented the officer whose body camera was rolling with a narcotics test kit.

“I checked for cocaine, but it looks like it’s probably molly,” the officer said.

“X pills,” the other added, citing the street name for ecstasy.

In the end, the cops decided the ashes were a combination of meth and ecstasy because that’s how drug users carry their drugs: all mixed together in a single container. 

. . . .

Field drug tests allow cops to work backwards from their conclusions. If it doesn’t test positive for one drug, it’s probably some other drug. And if it doesn’t test positive for anything, it might still be drugs because sometimes drugs are carried in containers.

Link to the rest at Above the Law

3 thoughts on “Man Sues After Field Drug Test Says His Daughter’s Ashes Are Meth And Ecstasy”

  1. Everything I’m posting here is in my Story folders. The Outsider by Stephen King is a good example of how things can go wrong. This stuff will be a running theme in many of the books I’m writing.

    Basically:

    – Cops are trained to lie, they are paid to lie, especially in court.

    The drug seizure nonsense goes back to the 90s when it was made legal for the cops to stop you on the highway, and basically take everything you have.

    The Washington Post had a series a few years ago.

    Police intelligence targets cash
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2014/09/07/police-intelligence-targets-cash/

    Here is a YouTube video from such a traffic stop. It has an extensive list of other posts in the description. He even mentions that the TV series, The Good Wife, had an episode based on these traffic stops. Great list of links.

    Breakfast in Collinsville
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJqq6KCOkdM

    BTW, A few years ago I was called in for Jury Duty and one of the cases was based on this. When they started Jury selection I stood up and talked about the Desert Snow program, and a lot of the people stood up and spoke against the cops. There were a few cops in the Jury pool who were a little upset that we were questioning the cops credibility. I was not selected for the Jury so I don’t know how it ended up, but basically the cops were on trial by us in the Jury pool.

    Even John Oliver mentioned it.

    Civil Forfeiture: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kEpZWGgJks

    This video is priceless.

    Don’t Talk to the Police
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE

    Reply
  2. Houston had a huge issue with this:
    https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/298-wrongful-drug-convictions-identified-in-8382474.php

    Evidence mishandling and assorted scandals closed the Houston Police crime lab. Which is why the crime lab is now a completely separate entity from the police department. Police no longer collect evidence from crime scenes in Houston. To prevent bias problems, independent civilian technicians do all the collection and processing of evidence. Since they have a separate operation, detectives can’t stop in to see how things are going, can’t influence results, can’t offer input. The hope is to rebuild trust.
    https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2021/0423/CSI-Houston-How-a-Texas-lab-has-remade-the-science-of-forensics

    Reply
    • Those go into my Story folders.

      Thanks…

      The problem I have, is that Fiction has to make sense, and many of the examples they give in articles and videos don’t make any sense at all. I can only use a narrow range of events that are part of the Story, else the bizarreness of Reality intrudes on Story.

      Reply

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