Cobb County police and one of its officers are being sued on accusations that the cop wrongfully arrested three people each on a “hunch” they were high on marijuana while driving.
American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia along with an Atlanta law firm filed the lawsuit Monday. The 19-page suit says that even though none of them tested positive for marijuana and the charges were dropped, they still have these counts on their records.
The ACLU says Katelyn Ebner, Princess Mbamara and Ayokunle Oriyomi were arrested by officer Tracy “T.T.” Carroll in 2016 on DUI charges and held in jail overnight.
Ross Cavitt, Cobb’s new spokesman as of Friday, said Monday afternoon that the county hadn’t been officially served with the lawsuit and therefore couldn’t comment.
Sean J. Young, legal director of ACLU of Georgia said in the group’s announcement of the lawsuit that the police department “needs to be held accountable for these flagrant violations of constitutional rights.”
“The people of Cobb County should be outraged that their police department wasted scarce resources harassing and jailing innocent people,” Young said.
The officer is also being sued individually for his arrests.
The suit focused on Carroll’s certification as a “Drug Recognition Expert” — a national trend in policing to give officers extra training on identifying intoxicated drivers that the ACLU doesn’t agree with.
“It leads officers to believe that they have a special ability to detect marijuana use without concrete evidence,” the ACLU said.
This lawsuit has a connection to the last time the Cobb County Police Department was in the national spotlight a couple of weeks ago.
That’s when WSB-TV aired dash cam video showing 28-year police veteran Lt. Greg Abbott saying to a white woman who was the passenger of a car pulled over for DUI: “Remember, we only kill black people,” Abbott says on the video. “Yeah. We only kill black people, right?”
Abbott was in the chain of command that dismissed Ebner’s complaint about her arrest, the lawsuit alleges. Ebner was arrested four months before Abbott was recorded making the comments.
Abbott was allowed to retire even though he sent in his retirement letter in the middle of a press conference about his firing.