Last week, Arizona police arrested a retiree named Jessie Thornton after they determined him to be driving under the influence of alcohol.
There’s just one problem: Thornton was completely sober at the time.
Now Thorton is suing those responsible claiming that his crime was not being drunk, but instead being an African American.
"This is a case of D-W-B, driving while black," said Thornton's attorney Marc Victor.
Thorton claims he has been pulled over ten times in recent memory. Thorton’s wife works nights, so Thorton lives a nocturnal schedule as well.
On the night of the arrest, Police flagged down Thorton’s car after he briefly crossed out of his own lane. The arresting officer accused Thorton of being drunk after seeing his blood-shot eyes, but Thorton says he told the officer that he had been swimming at the gym.
Thorton alerted police that his multiple injuries would make a DUI exam difficult for him, but cops continued to insist on him being guilty. After Thorton was placed in a police car, he was denied more space for his aching, soon-to-be operated on leg.
Thorton blew a 0.0 once at the station, yet police continued to imply he would receive punishment. At one point they told him his license would be suspended. Eventually, Thorton was released, but still had to deal with his car being impounded.
Even ignoring the racial implications of this incident, this is a scary example of the power police have over civilians. Thorton committed no illegal acts, and was entirely cooperative with police, yet still suffered the night from hell. It is not clear if these police had ulterior motives for their actions, or were simply unable to handle the situation properly. Either way, innocent men like Thorton should not be subjected to this kind of harassment from those expected to serve him.
Thorton’s lawsuit is still in its early stages, but hopefully it will result in a police force that protects instead of terrorizes.