Man jailed after field drug test mistakes drywall dust for cocaine
OVIEDO (FOX 13) - Karlos Cashe didn't expect a routine traffic stop would get him locked up for 90 days, but it did. Cashe says he got pulled over for driving without headlights, but when the Oviedo police officer saw white powder on his seat and floorboard, things changed.
The officer tested the powder with a field drug test kit. To Cashe's surprise, it tested positive for cocaine.
"You found drywall and you turned it into cocaine and it cost me 90 days trying to prove my innocence, " said Cashe.
He insisted it wasn't cocaine. As as handyman, he uses drywall often. But his pleas fell on deaf ears and he was arrested, booked, and charged with having drugs.
Because he was on probation for previous drug charges, his bond was denied. So for three months, he sat in jail, proclaiming his innocence and waiting for a state lab to test the substance.
When it finally did, the test confirmed what Cashe had been saying the whole time.
"I want some compensation from them. When I make a mistake I pay for it. That's why I was on probation. It's not different for them," he said.
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More than a year ago, FOX 13 exposed the unreliability of presumptive field drug test kits. Researchers showed us how everything from aspirin to chocolate to oregano, and even an air sample can test positive for drugs.
Yet law enforcement agencies from all over the country continue to use them every day to arrest people on drug charges. Cashe is just the latest victim.
After our yearlong investigation, the state attorneys and public defenders and FDLE changed their policies on how they handled drug cases. And law enforcement retrained their officers on how to use these test kits.