A New York man who spent 29 days in jail after Pennsylvania state police mistook homemade soap for cocaine has filed a lawsuit.
Alexander Bernstein says he had to pay thousands of dollars in court costs and missed Thanksgiving with his toddler before the charges were dropped. He’s seeking damages exceeding $150,000. State troopers and the field test manufacturer are named in the suit filed last week.
Bernstein was a passenger in a Mercedes-Benz police pulled over for speeding near Allentown in November 2013.
Troopers smelled marijuana, searched the car and found packages the driver said was homemade soap, but tested as cocaine. Lab tests later showed it was soap.
The driver was charged with marijuana possession and speeding.
The tale gives me a special chuckle because I went through exactly the same rigmarole BITD. Didn’t spend days in the slammer, just hours in a holding cell at an airport in Scotland. No right to sue because immigration coppers are above the law. Even the requirement to identify themselves by name.
But, they turned me loose when the tight-ass chief copper who’d never heard of a cold-water detergent like Woolite decided to test the powdered white substance he found in a plastic bag in my backpack – himself. His mates told me he sneezed soap bubbles for five minutes.