A federal grand jury has awarded $1.5 million to a transgender woman who spent over five months in jail after a bogus drug arrest by an Atlanta police officer.
Ju’Zema Goldring was arrested for jaywalking on October 11, 2015, while walking with friends in Midtown.
During the arrest, Officers Vladimir Henry and Juan Restrepo searched her purse and found a “stress” ball.
The officers cut the stress ball open and tested the substance inside of it for narcotics.
Despite two field tests showing no signs of illegal drugs, Ju’Zema was also charged with trafficking cocaine.
She was booked into Fulton County Jail under the name Julius Goldring and remained incarcerated until March 22, 2016.
Two years later, Ju’Zema Goldring filed a federal lawsuit against Atlanta police and the two arresting officers.
Watch the news report below.
The case went to trial earlier this month and the jury ruled in her favor.
Attorney Jeff Filipovits said in a statement:
The test was negative, and he charged her anyway.
Everyone on the jury saw that the test was negative.
It should not have taken seven years and a federal jury trial to bring this to light.
It’s terrifying to think what other abuses the City of Atlanta has tolerated that haven’t gotten our attention.
Our client was obviously profiled, as are so many others.
In his written judgment, Judge William Ray admonished the Atlanta Police Department for their nonsense and injustices.
For one thing, any arrest, even for a low-level offense like jaywalking, can seriously disrupt a person’s life, including by making it harder for him or her to obtain employment.
Beyond that, the time it takes for an officer to arrest someone for jaywalking arguably could be better spent on more pressing activities, such as addressing violent crimes, which seem so prevalent in recent times, or with engaging with the community.
Consider an officer who is at the end of his shift and has not yet hit that day’s points target; rather than writing a citation for someone speeding on the highway (or jaywalking across the street), it would seem the officer might be tempted to instead arrest that person for just a couple extra points.
In case you were wondering, both of the officers who arrested Ju’Zema Goldring are still on the force.