Arizona Man Seeks $500,000 Over Dismissed DUI Case

June 12, 2013

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 misdemeanor drunken driving charge was dismissed nearly two months later after a blood test revealed no signs of mind-altering drugs in his body.

In a precursor to a lawsuit, Thornton, who is black, filed a $500,000 notice of claim against the city in late April, alleging he is the victim of racial profiling and harassment by Surprise police.

The Surprise Police Department had no immediate comment Monday on Thornton’s case.

Police say the 64-year-old retired firefighter had crossed a white roadway line, had blood shot eyes, acknowledged taking a prescription blood-pressure medication and swayed and struggled to keep his balance during a sobriety test.

Thornton’s lawyer Marc Victor says his client’s eyes were bloodshot because had just returned from swimming at a gym and that he was suffering from knee and hip problems at the time.

Police say Thornton yelled during the arrest but insisted throughout that he was sober.

A breath test showed Thornton’s blood alcohol level to be 0.00.

An officer who is a drug recognition expert had concluded Thornton wasn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Still, Thornton was cited for the misdemeanor charge, but the charge was eventually dismissed.

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