Woman Thrown In Jail For Having Vitamins?

Police overreach (and incompetency) is way too common. Reports of police brutality are rampant, but you would think, in this day and age, that plain old garden-variety incompetency would not happen. After all, with all the technology that police can put into investigations, they should be able to figure things out pretty quickly, right?

Well, not always, it seems.

Take the unfortunately case of a lady in Florida. Daniel Jennings gives us the details:

Rebecca Shaw spent five months in jail because a sheriff’s deputy conducted a field test that could not tell the difference between vitamins and oxycodone pills.

To make matters worse, it took a year for the state crime lab to test the pills and clear Shaw’s name.

“He does the field drug test and because it tests positive, nothing else mattered,” Shaw’s attorney, Patrick LeDuc, said of a Pasco County, Fla., deputy. “It didn’t matter she had no prior record, it didn’t matter she was out of gas.”

Shaw’s nightmare began in September 2015 when her car ran out of gas. A deputy received permission to search her vehicle, found the pills, ran the test and arrested her, The Miami Herald reported.

“He said, ‘They don’t look like vitamins. They look like oxycodone,’” Shaw said of the deputy, according to Fox 13 in Tampa.

She added, “It felt like my whole life was over. It was terrible. My kids were devastated. I was away for five months. I cried constantly.”

She was arrested on drug trafficking charges, and placed in jail for five months. She stayed there until her husband was able to raise $5,000 in bail money. It took another seven months for a Florida crime lab to retest the pills and discover they were vitamins. That caused prosecutors to finally drop the charges.

Imagine that you were in this lady’s situation. You’ve done nothing wrong, yet, because of a test that gives a false result and the assumption of a police officer, you spend nearly half of a year in jail away from your family. How would you feel?

But maybe you’re thinking that it’s all because she failed the drug test. What about that? Again, from Jennings:

Shaw is just one of many people who were jailed because of faulty field tests. Fox 13 went to a lab and had the kits themselves tested.

“We watched as aspirin, cough medicine, coffee and spices like oregano … tested positive for illegal drugs,” Fox 13 reporter Gloria Gomez reported. “These are the same kits used by law enforcement all over the country to make drug arrests.”

That’s right. The drug tests used by law enforcement officers consistently give false positive results. Yet, these are the tests used to arrest and convict people and put them into jail. Even if law enforcement officers are being honest (and I believe that the overwhelming majority are), if they are provided bad information, how can they do justice to people who they are dealing with? The answer is that, many times, they can’t.

This is a huge problem. We need to insist that our law enforcement officers are provided the absolute best information. If they do otherwise, more innocent people will have their rights trampled on, too.

  • The True Grit

    I hope she ends up owning the entire Police Dept. and town after the suit is settled.

  • mousekiller

    With all the info about this case available at both the police dept and the prosecutors office,, She has a very good case for a class action law suit on behalf of all persons that have improperly cited and jailed in that state in like cases. it works in many circumstances including traffic violations found to be false. I tried that in another state and they would rather fire the officer than pay 10$,million to prepare for the$ 5 million suit. Paying off is cheaper than going to court for them…

  • anonymous4u4me

    See what happens when you don’t stand up for your rights? You allowed the search for you thought hey I have nothing to hide, but you should have stood your ground, either way you might have still had the problem, but you might have made this thug think twice about his actions. The very fact he said don’t look like vitamins to me tells you what he was like. Perhaps you might have come back with your face don’t look like a face, it looks like a big prick. Sue their assess off though and let the tax payers foot the bill for two sides of negligence. Them for being thugs, and you for not standing up to them.

  • Gil Favor

    Sue the sheriff, deputy, and county. OWN the courthouse, and turn it into a winter home in florida. . . .

  • Alan404

    Did the much aggreived innocent victim, if the foregoing article is accurate, file a world ending suit against the officer, his agency and the mob that provided the test kit? If not, why not, unless the lady ended up awash in money, having been bought off? By the way, if it had been yours truly that had been messed with, it would take one hellish large pile of money to buy me off.

  • Charles Berger

    The Police,Prosecutors and courts are completely aware of how inaccurate the majority of drug field test kits are and they don’t care that you’re innocent of the charges they filed against you all they are after is a quick conviction which is why most people will be offered and accept a plea bargain rather than sit in jail until the state gets around to testing the alleged drugs ( it took them a year in this case)

  • timu2cool

    This is a great reason not to let the police intimidate you into a search..ignorant and sometimes arrogant cops can cause your life to be turned upside down.get a search warrent.. Refuse to answer questions.

  • h5mind

    Wrongful arrest lawsuits typically go nowhere. The departments and cops obviously know this, so they have little to fear from us “civilians”. Hope this lady never needs to apply for a job ever again, because that arrest record will hang over her head forever. FYI, police do not work for you- they work for the Department as a revenue-generator tool. Their job is to enforce policy, hence “policy” officer. The ‘Protect and Serve’ plastered on their cruisers is simply a little ironic humor.

  • Town Crier

    It’s not bad enough that the drug companies are pushing doctors to push poisons on us, but now the cops can’t even get a valid reading on legitimate drugs in the field OR in their labs!

  • Gordon Klock

    Seriously, I think those drug testing kits are deliberately bogus, just to maximize the numbers of arrests, with the private prison industry, the law doesn’t really care about ‘guilt’, or ‘innocence’, they just want a conviction, (& feign surprise, in the rare cases, whenever the charges are proven false), numerous other similar stories have shown that, they have also tested positive, on plaster, soap, & sugar, given those chemical differences, I can only conclude that those tests, are deliberately false, & a handy vehicle, for false arrest, & conviction…(& there is a large percentage, of professional legal personnel, who know this, but aren’t ‘letting on’)…

  • PJ London

    ‘ Even if law enforcement officers are being honest (and I believe that the overwhelming majority are) … ‘
    You are naive and dumb to think that cops are honest. They are rewarded and promoted on the number of arrests not on how ‘honest’ they are.
    They are immune to any consequences of their actions as they can always claim that they ‘believed’ or ‘feared’ or some other pretext. They will always, always, always cover for each other and the ‘justice’ system of DA and courts will always, always, always support and protect the police.
    If you become the ‘enemy’ by taking them on in civil court or the media, you will be hounded to the ends of the earth and retaliation will be severe. Say goodbye to your kids and your job.
    You are living in a police state and don’t you forget it.

  • Daniel Graves

    I would have asked that the the tests be run again. The police sometimes over reach when money is inlvolved.