OCTOBER 18, 2013
OCTOBER 18–A New York City man arrested this summer for possession of methamphetamine was actually carrying Jolly Rancher candies that cops mistook for a controlled substance, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Love Olatunjiojo was busted in late-June after being searched by cops who approached the 25-year-old and a friend as they walked on a Coney Island street. According to a police report, officers seized six “crystalline rocks of solid material.” Four of the rocks were blue, while two were red.
As detailed in Olatunjiojo’s October 15 lawsuit (which does not specify monetary damages), he had stopped at the It’Sugar candy store before being approached by police. While there, Olatunjiojo and his friend “purchased various candies…including some ‘Jolly Rancher’ brand candies.”
Kenneth Smith, Olatunjiojo’s lawyer, told TSG that the Jolly Ranchers were in their “individual wrappers” when seized by police.
Olatunjiojo, who is of African descent, was charged with drug possession. He spent 24 hours in custody before being released on his own recognizance on the misdemeanor count.
A Criminal Court complaint alleged that officers seized a “quantity of methamphetamine” that field tested positive for a controlled substance. One of the arresting officers “has had professional testing as a police officer in the identification of methamphetamine.”
But the crystalline rocks purportedly containing methamphetamine were not illegal. Two days after Olatunjiojo’s arrest, the NYPD’s Controlled Substance Analysis Section performed lab tests that revealed they contained no controlled substances. A resulting lab report directed cops to notify the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office of the test’s negative results.
Despite that warning, the narcotics count against Olatunjiojo remained pending until a September 19 court hearing, when a prosecutor moved to drop the charge.
Olatunjiojo’s friend, who was also carrying Jolly Ranchers, was similarly arrested on a drug possession count, said Smith, who added that the criminal charge was subsequently dropped. A third man was busted for interfering with police as they arrested his two friends. That man, Smith said, exclaimed to cops that, “It’s candy!”
Olatunjiojo alleges that his false arrest, strip search, and unlawful imprisonment has resulted in “emotional trauma” and “severe mental pain and anguish.” (7 pages)