64 year old retired firefighter, Jessie Thornton has filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the city of Surprise, Arizona. Thornton believes he has been targeted by the city’s police officers, since he’s so far been stopped 10 times, and the straw that broke the camel’s back was his arrest after blowing a 0.00 breathalyzer test. Thornton says the cops pulled him over because he crossed over a white line on the highway.
“He (the officer) walked up and he said ‘I can tell you’re driving DUI by looking in your eyes,'” Thorton told ABC 15 in Arizona. Thornton’s reason for having red eyes was pretty simple. He works out during the evenings and was swimming in the pool.
“I take my glasses off and he says, ‘You’ve got bloodshot eyes.’ I said, ‘I’ve been swimming at LA Fitness,’ and he says, ‘I think you’re DUI,'” said Thornton. “He (the officer) goes, ‘Well we’re going to do a sobriety test.’ I said, ‘OK, but I got bad knees and a bad hip with surgery in two days.'”
Thornton said he was then placed in handcuffs and told to sit on the curb.
“I couldn’t even sit on the ground like that and they knew it and I was like laying on the ground, then they put me in the back of an SUV and when I asked the officer to move her seat up ’cause my hip hurt she told me to stop whining,” said Thornton.
According to documents provided to ABC15 from the City of Surprise, Thornton was taken to police headquarters where he took a breathalyzer test.
The test, according to the police documents, came back with a blood alcohol level of 0.000.
“Yes, I do the breathalyzer and it comes back zero, zero, zero,” said Thornton.
While in custody, a “DRE” or drug recognition expert is called to test Thornton.
“After he did all the tests, he says, ‘I would never have arrested you, you show no signs of impairment,'” said Thornton.
The Surprise resident is right. The police documents show the drug recognition officer wrote, “I conducted an evaluation of Jessie, in my opinion Jessie was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
According the documents from the Surprise Police Department, the blood analysis showed no drugs were detected in Thornton’s blood.
Jessie’s car had been impounded and the MVD notified of the DUI charge.
“I then get this message that my license is being suspended and I have to take some sort of drinking class or something,” said Thornton.
According to the police documents, Thornton was later released to his wife.
“She was at work and had to come get me, it was a mess, I couldn’t believe it,” said Thornton. “On top of that my car was impounded on a Friday night and they said I couldn’t get it until Monday..”
Thornton now claims this wasn’t DUI.
“It was driving while black,” said Thornton.
Thornton says his lawsuit isn’t about the money. “It’s not totally about the money, although I’m already out more than $5,000, that’s $5,000 that I don’t have,” said Thornton.
“This is not the way American citizens ought to be treated by officers or treated by anybody for that matter,” said Thornton’s attorney Marc Victor.