A Black transgender woman received a $1.5 million payout seven years after spending nearly six months in an Atlanta jail for a bogus cocaine trafficking charge.
On Thursday, a federal jury ordered Atlanta police officer Vladimir Henry to pay $1.5 million to Ju’Zema Goldring for her false arrest for cocaine trafficking, Fox 5 Atlanta reports.
Goldring was arrested for jaywalking in October 2015 but claimed she never jaywalked and was instead profiled for being Black, transgender, and homeless.
Goldring’s purse was checked during her arrest, and officers located a stress ball and tested it for cocaine. Goldring ended up spending nearly six months in jail on cocaine trafficking charges despite receiving a negative test result.
Henry and fellow officer Juan Restrepo claimed they found 60 grams of powder cocaine inside the stress ball that was worth thousands of dollars. Goldring was only released from jail after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation independently conducted a test on the contents of the stress ball and detected no cocaine.
“As it turns out, it wasn’t drugs at all, but she spent nearly 6 months in the Fulton County jail based on this seemingly bogus charge,” Judge William Ray II wrote Thursday in his decision.
Ray noted how no one should be arrested for jaywalking and blamed the Atlanta Police Department’s “point system” as the cause for the false arrest, The Hill reports. Ray said that the point system awarding officers for each action they take “may create perverse incentives” for more arrests.
The judge said arresting someone for jaywalking could serve “as a pretext for discrimination.” Ray hopes the Atlanta PD will “consider reforming these practices.“
“It should not have taken seven years and a federal jury trial to bring this to light, “Goldring’sng’s attorney Jeff Filipovits said.
”It’s terrifying to think what other abuses the City of Atlanta has tolerated that haven’t gotten our attention. Our client was obviously profiled, as are so many others.”