ATLANTA (CN) – The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Cobb County Police Department on behalf of three individuals who claim they were wrongly arrested on DUI charges in 2016.
In a federal complaint filed in Atlanta Sept. 25, the ACLU says plaintiffs Katelyn Ebner, Princess Mbamara and Ayokunle Oriyami were subjected to very similar arrests during traffic stops in 2016.
The plaintiffs allege they were subjected to “humiliating” field sobriety tests “simply because a police officer had a hunch, based on deeply flawed drug-recognition training, that they might have been smoking marijuana.”
In each incident, defendant Tracy Carroll performed a “watered-down” version of the 12-step Drug Recognition Experts protocol, the complaint says.
Carroll, who allegedly never obtained warrants, justified his actions by saying he believed the plaintiffs had watered or bloodshot eyes, the plaintiffs claim.
During and after their arrests, the plaintiffs say they were “confused, intimidated and distressed.”
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs were forced to take blood tests and were held in jail cells overnight. All three of their drug tests came out negative and their charges were dropped, but they still have public arrest records.
Ebner filed a complaint with the Cobb County Police Department, which dismissed it as “meritless,” the complaint says.
“The dismissal of Plaintiff Ebner’s complaint, and the written justification therefore, also constitute evidence of an existing policy and practice of DUI-drugs arrests made without legal justification and a misplaced reliance on so-called Drug Recognition Experts, even when they do not follow any of the protocol upon which their supposed expertise is founded,” the plaintiffs claim.
The plaintiffs say Carroll violated their Fourth Amendment rights and have also accused him of false arrest, unlawful search and seizure and malicious prosecution.
Representatives for the Cobb County Police Department were not immediately available for comment.