Black Arkansas couple spend 2 month in jail after cops confused baking soda for cocaine.
Law enforcement created to protect the innocent, but this is time when innocents need protection for those who swore to protect and serve. Gale Griffin and her husband Wendall Harvey were detained for 8 weeks waiting for baking soda lab results. Two month just to confirm that it wasn’t cocaine.
According to KATV Gale Griffin and Wendall Harvey have been driving trucks together since 2009. They haul explosives for the military, a job that requires high security clearance and a rigorous background check. However in may routine inspection turned into a nightmare for couple.
The Fort Chaffee police were suspicious of the powdery white substance they found, so, they called the narcotics unit from the Barling Police Department for help. They used infamous $2 field test that showed that it was cocaine and not baking soda.
The test is a $2 Narcotics Identification Kit, also known as a NIK test, used by law enforcement agencies across the country.
“They’re not infallible. They are subject to misreadings,” explained Greg Parrish, Director of the Public Defender Commission. “There’s a lot of these instances where they get false positives.”
Around the country there have been instances of candy confused for meth, vitamins identified as amphetamines, and tortilla flour testing positive as cocaine. In Florida, the Department of Law Enforcement Lab Systems found 21 percent of the substances that tested positive for meth in the field gave a negative result in the crime lab.
No shock the couple is Black. Arkansas cops mistake baking soda for cocaine, jail couple for 2 months… https://t.co/sQrMpQvKvB
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) November 18, 2016
Gale and Wendell were taken to the Sebastian County Detention Center, Jail where they were held for ten days before the court approved them for a public defender.
“The door opened, and there’s a woman in the top bunk and a woman in the bottom bunk and a woman on the floor, and I had to sleep on the floor on the other side right next to the toilet,” recalled Griffin. “I thought that I’d died and gone to hell. Really.”
Because they did not have cell phone numbers memorized, they were initially unable to notify loved ones of where they were. After four weeks, Harvey was able to communicate to his son that he needed to set up a special phone system in order to receive calls placed from the jail.
“I felt like I was somewhere that didn’t feel like America. I can’t call anybody, nobody knows where I’m at,” said Harvey.
A Black couple in Arkansas spent two months in jail after cops mistook a bag of baking soda for cocaine https://t.co/i6c7fsXV6w
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) November 18, 2016
The couple’s lawyer begged prosecution to expedite the more accurate lab tests, which would prove that the mysterious white powder was only baking soda. Prosecution waited another four weeks before requesting the lab speed up the case.
On July 14 — two months after Griffin and Harvey were first arrested — the lab finally processed the substance. Officials confirmed it was only baking soda.
It took another couple of months before the couple got their impounded truck back from Arkansas. They say it was badly damaged, and so was their reputation. They’re still working to get their security clearance and their jobs back.
This is another two black lives that were ruined by cops and their ignorance. How did this happen? You can blame $2 field tests, however the right answer will be incompetence of cops. They were unable to identify baking soda, a simplest everyday product. How many black innocent people suffered from such incompetence? More important question how many black lives and black businesses they will ruin if we leave everything as it is?