AZ man seeks $500,000 over dismissed DUI case - WFSB 3 Connecticut


AZ man seeks $500,000 over dismissed DUI case

CBS 5 News CBS 5 News

A man is seeking $500,000 from an Arizona city for his arrest on a drunken driving charge even though a breath-alcohol test showed he hadn't consumed any alcohol.

Jessie Thornton was cited in a Dec. 7 traffic stop in the Phoenix suburb of Surprise, but the charge was dismissed nearly two months later after a blood test revealed no signs of mind-altering drugs in his body.

Thornton, who is black, filed a $500,000 notice of claim against the city in late April, alleging he's the victim of racial profiling by Surprise police.

Police reports say Thornton had bloodshot eyes during the stop, while Thornton's attorney says his client's eyes were bloodshot because had just returned from swimming.

Surprise police Chief Michael Frazier issued the following statement Monday night:

"There is a great deal of focus on a complaint and a notice of legal action against the City of Surprise by a resident claiming unfair treatment by the Surprise Police Department during a traffic stop last December.

"Legal issues limit what we can say publicly right now, but it is important for you to be aware of a few things as the matter moves forward.

"First, no charges were brought against the resident involved. The citation was dismissed by Surprise prosecutors when blood tests showed no evidence of impairment.

"You may be under the impression that DUI test results are available to our officers immediately. That's not the case. When a subject in a DUI investigation agrees to give blood for testing, as occurred in this case, it can take weeks for the results to come back. In the meantime a DUI citation can be issued, pending the results of the test.

"This is just one example of how easy it can be to get the wrong impression of what has happened.

"Let me say this: We all know there are many sides to a story. It may be easy for some to make inflammatory public statements, but my obligation to you is exactly the opposite. My commitment is to be deliberate, professional and careful. I will not sensationalize this matter or try a legal case in public. I ask you to do the same: keep an open mind, withhold judgment, do not jump to conclusions based on one side of a story. The facts will emerge.

"Today, we are moving to respond to media requests for documents associated with this case, and we look forward to providing what we can as quickly as possible.

"Public trust and public safety go hand in hand in Surprise. One depends on the other. One reason our community is so safe is the strong bond of trust we share with our residents. We will never jeopardize that trust.

"Whenever anyone thinks they have been unfairly treated, I insist on knowing about it. Our record shows that we investigate and respond appropriately. That will never change.

"I promise our residents and the public-at-large that the Surprise Police Department never forgets the trust that you place in us. We are very proud of what we do together to keep Surprise a desirable and safe community for all."

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved.  CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation) contributed to this report.