Cobb County Police Department Arrested and Jailed Innocent Georgians
ATLANTA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, together with Mitchell & Shapiro LLP, filed suit today against the Cobb County Police Department for arresting and jailing three innocent Georgians based on the unfounded suspicions of a so-called “Drug Recognition Expert” who charged each with allegedly driving under the influence of marijuana.
As the lawsuit explains, blood tests confirmed that none of the plaintiffs were driving under the influence of marijuana. Yet Katelyn Ebner, Princess Mbamara, and Ayokunle Oriyomi were arrested, forced to have their blood drawn, and detained in jail overnight. While the charges were later dropped, the arrests remain on their public records, and their lives have been turned upside down.
The Cobb County Police Department has embraced the so-called “Drug Recognition Expert” (DRE) program, a program used nationwide but has never been independently and rigorously validated. The protocol requires officers to perform medical examinations to detect drug influence without having relevant medical training, and it leads officers to believe that they have a special ability to detect marijuana use without concrete evidence.
“The people of Cobb County should be outraged that their police department wasted scarce resources harassing and jailing innocent people,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia. “The Cobb County Police Department needs to be held accountable for these flagrant violations of constitutional rights.”
The lawsuit, filed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, seeks to vindicate the plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful seizures and obtain compensatory and punitive damages.