A Florida man spent 90 days in jail after police mistook drywall dust for cocaine.
Karlos Cashe was pulled over in March for driving without headlights. During the traffic stop, one of the officers noticed a white powdery substance on Cashe's seat and floorboard. The officers also believed that marijuana was present in the car.
Cashe, a handyman who was on probation for marijuana and cocaine charges at the time, told the officers the powdery substance was drywall dust.
"I know for a fact it's drywall because I’m a handyman," Cashe told WFTV. "I said that continuously during the arrest stop."
Cashe was put in handcuffs when the officers determined that he was violating his court-ordered curfew, only to realize hours later that their system was out of date and Cashe was not in breach of his curfew.
A dashcam video showed the officers examining Cashe's phone case.
"I don’t know if he does drywall work or something, but there is white stuff all in that case," one of the officers says in the video, according to WGN. "What we found so far ain’t drywall."
When police did a field test on the powdery substance, it came back positive for cocaine. Cashe was then taken to Seminole County Jail where he was denied bond since he was alleged to have violated his probation.
Cashe spent the next three months behind bars.
"I sat there 90 days knowing I was innocent," he said.
Cashe was finally released after lab tests revealed that there were no drugs in his vehicle at the time of his arrest. The cocaine-like substance was in fact drywall powder, as Cashe had stated during the traffic stop.
Lt. Heather Capetillo of the Oviedo Police Department defended the officers' actions.
"We had probable cause," she said. "Our presumptive tests on the cocaine was positive and that’s what we go off of. That’s why with every presumptive that we do, we send it off to FDLE [the Florida Department of Law Enforcement]."
WFTV reports that the officers used a NarcoPouch to test the substance. NarcoPouch is manufactured by Safariland, a company whose products once led to Orlando police mistaking donut glaze for meth and sending a man to jail as a result.
When asked if there were problems with the test kits, Capetillo said the police department is looking into getting new ones.
"We will probably review test kits," she explained. "[We will] contact FDLE and see if there are other test kits or other brands we can use."
Cashe has been out of jail for a little more than a week. His main concern is that other people might suffer the same injustice.
"This is what I want to stop," he said. "I don’t want this to happen to anybody else."